By now, we’re all aware that we should wear sunscreen to protect us from harmful UV radiation. Yet every year more than 3.5 million people are diagnosed with skin cancer—and one person dies of melanoma, the most dangerous form, every hour. And studies have found a 59 percent increase in the risk of melanoma from indoor tanning.
Clearly, we need to be reminded about the basics.
While researching my book Eat it To Beat It, I wrote a column about Five Foods for Healthier Skin, but now I’d like to look at what else you can do to protect yourself. I talked to some of the top skin cancer doctors in the country and asked them for their best prevention tips.
Here’s what they said.
|Use Sunscreen Correctly|
“Choose a sunscreen labeled SPF 30 or more, and includes the words Broad Spectrum and Water Resistant. Re-apply every two hours or after you swim or sweat. Apply sunscreen liberally. It takes approximately 1 ounce (a shot glass) to cover an adult.”
— Timothy Wang, MD, dermatologist for the Melanoma Program at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center
|Know What Works and When|
“You should wear sunscreen even when driving in the car as window glass only blocks UVB light, not UVA. And UVA light is also associated with skin cancer and as well as skin thinning. The sunscreen in makeup can’t be relied on, as it is typically lower in SPF than claimed by the manufacturer and wears off easily.“
— Bruce E. Katz, M.D. Clinical Professor and Director of the Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Clinic. Mt. Sinai School of Medicine
|Monitor Your Skin|
“Be aware of your skin and regularly look for any changes, including new skin spots or moles, or changes in the size, shape or color of existing spots or moles. Take any concerns to your doctor for an evaluation. Have your skin examined annually by a dermatologist to check for signs of skin cancer.”
— Mary K. Tripp, Ph.D., M.P.H., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Instructor of Behavioral Science
|Wear Protective Clothing|
“Try to avoid being in full sun, stand in the shade if possible--this has been shown to be very effective. If you can’t stand in the shade, then shade your skin with clothes: Wear long sleeves, long pants, and broad-brimmed hats whenever possible in the sun. Some online sources for sun-protective clothing are coolibar.com and sunprecautions.com.”
— Maria L. Wei, M.D., Ph.D. Associate Professor of Dermatology, Director of the Melanoma Surveillance Clinic at the University of California, San Francisco
Dave Zinczenko, ABC News nutrition and wellness editor, is a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author. His latest book, "Eat It to Beat It," is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies. Sign up here for his free newsletter now!