During the month of May at the J, we are working to bring Skin Cancer Awareness to our center.

Did you know more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined? That’s outrageous to think, right? What about this: one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. We don’t like those odds, so that’s why we have composed a list of 12 ways you can reduce your risk of skin cancer.

1. Attend our lecture and presentation, “Skin! Melanoma Research & Cure” on Tuesday, May 8 at 7:00 pm.

It’s a free event and it shows your support for J programs! Win-win in our book.

2. Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths by all means necessary.

We know it’s hard to resist when you’re headed on a cruise or (regrettably–kidding!) attending a family reunion, but according to the The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel, ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, are a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Yikes!

3. Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30–50 every day.

For extended outdoor activity, be sure to put on sunscreen that’s water-resistant.

4. Examine your skin head-to-toe every month to check for any suspicious spots.

Click here to view step-by-step instructions on how to perform a thorough, proper check. It sounds like common sense, but believe us, it’s necessary.

5.  Invest in a window film for your vehicle.

Although car windshields are partially treated to filter out UVA, the side windows let in about 63 percent of the sun’s UVA radiation and rear windows are also unprotected, leaving back seat passengers exposed. However, transparent window film screens out almost 100 percent of UVB and UVA without reducing visibility.

6. Wear protective clothing.

The sun’s rays are the strongest between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, so if you have to be outside between these hours, be sure to wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants, along with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. It may seem a bit drastic, but it will drastically decrease your chances of developing skin cancer.

7. Use extreme caution near water, snow, and sand.

Although fun, these surfaces reflect a ton of damaging rays from the sun and increase your chance of a nasty sunburn. Load up on the SPF and protective clothing!

8. Worried about vitamin D?

Many people are guilty of avoiding sunscreen because they believe it impacts their daily dose of vitamin D; however, that’s not really the case. Through a healthy diet and/or vitamin supplements, a healthy dose of vitamin D is achievable, without the unnecessary risk of skin cancer.

9. Reapply sunscreen every two hours!

We know, we’ve heard it all before, but that’s because it’s true. In order to do its job, sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours, and even more frequently if you’re partaking in sweaty outdoor activities or swimming. This isn’t a “one and done” type of thing…it takes work. But it’s worth it.

10. Follow the ABCDEs.

The American Academy of Dermatology says you should tell your doctor if your moles have the following symptoms of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer: Asymmetry (one half of the mole is different than the other), Borders (is a mole irregular, scalloped, or poorly defined?), Color (check to see if a mole changes color), Diameters (are they the size of a pencil eraser or larger?), and Evolving (has the mole changed in size, shape, or color?).

11. Be sure to get screened yearly by a pro.

We don’t like going to the doctor either, but sometimes it’s necessary. Be sure to schedule an annual skin cancer screening no matter what your assumed risk. It might be uncomfortable, but it’s extremely helpful to have a professional look for any skin abnormalities (especially in places you can’t see yourself!).

12. Take extra precaution if you have multiple risk factors.

Genetics, baby. Unfortunately, some people are more prone to skin cancer based off of their genetic traits. If you have light skin, a history of cancer in your family, freckles, blue or green eyes, naturally blonde or red hair, an inability to tan, etc. be sure to always take extreme precaution. Be sure to wear sunscreen every day, wear protective clothing, and schedule skin cancer screenings at least twice a year.

We want to keep our community safe from preventable diseases such as skin cancer. While it may be a pain at times, skin care and sun protection is a must to stay in tip-top shape.

Pleasant May days to all–slather on some SPF 50!