Sun Myths

New skin cancer diagnoses are on the rise internationally. In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimates about one million new cases of basal or squamous cell carcinoma and about 60,000 cases of malignant melanoma will be diagnosed this year in the U.S. Many of these skin cancers could have been prevented by protection from the sun's rays.

If you're gearing up for a trip to the beach, understand that the truth about these common sunburn and tanning myths so you can keep you and your family safe.

"It's safe to tan if you do it slowly." Wrong! When skin is exposed to sun, its melanin increases, creating a tan. This indicates skin damage. The darker the tan, the higher the risk of skin cancer, no matter how gradual the tanning process.

"Starting the summer off with a sunburn is a good way to begin the tanning process." One bad burn early in life can mean skin cancer later.

"If I put waterproof sunscreen on my child, he/she can play all day in the pool and be safe." That's not quite right. Waterproof sunscreen may last up to an hour in the pool, but it should be applied every hour or so because many products rub off.

"My children are sun safe if they wear T-shirts while they play in the pool." Surprisingly, the typical light-weight, white cotton T-shirt is not the best protection, and when wet, is less effective than using water-resistant sunscreen. Choose tightly woven fabrics that you can't see through when held up to a light and use in combinations with sunscreen.

"Tanning beds are a safer way to tan." Indoor tanning is not safer than outdoor sunlight. Popular among women, tanning beds emit dangerous levels of UV rays. The American Academy of Dermatology and the World Health Organization recommend that no one under age eighteen be allowed to use a tanning bed. A recent study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute reported tanning bed use was linked to a 2.5 times increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma and a 1.5 times increased risk for basal cell cancer.

Information provided by the Utah Cancer Action Network.

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