12 cancer types combined.” (Cal. Dept. of Health Services)
- Californians get more lifetime sun exposure than before due to longer lives and more leisure time.
- Solar UV rays always damage skin: irreversibly & cumulatively.
- Most damage occurs before the age of 18.
- Mother Nature’s only UV shield (i.e. the earth’s ozone layer) is rapidly depleting.
- Over 1.3 million new cases of skin cancer get diagnosed each year in the U.S.
- Solar UV overexposure is the #1 cause of skin cancer.
- 1 in 5 Americans get skin cancer in their lifetime.
- Deadly skin cancer (melanoma) rates have more than doubled over the last 30 years.
Myth: “I’m safe if I don’t sunburn”
Fact: UV exposure always damages everybody’s skin, even if unapparent for years. It’s a matter of degree. Lighter skins damage more than darker skins. Sunburns are visible reminders of the worst damage and should always be avoided.
Myth: “I’m in shade so I’m protected.”
Fact: Not necessarily. For example, clouds, fog, and haze block less than 20% of the rays. In addition, these invisible rays can reflect off directly-exposed areas into shady areas.
Myth: “Sunscreen lotion provides sufficient protection.”
Fact: Always use SPF 15+, but never solely rely on it because it usually isn’t applied properly. It must be evenly applied to all areas 15-30 minutes prior to exposure. Frequent reapplications are necessary because it loses effectiveness with time, washes off, or gets unconsciously wiped off. Areas like upper lips and brows are particularly susceptible because perspiration increases skin’s vulnerability.
Myth: “The air’s cool, so I’m protected.”
Fact: There’s no relationship to sun protection. While dangerous all year, UV assault is less in winter because the sun doesn’t rise as high in the sky.
Myth: “My tan will prevent the sun from damaging my skin.”
Fact: Suntans are visible proof of skin damage. Artificial tans provide absolutely no sun protection. The degree of sun protection from natural tans is minimal.
Myth: “It’s OK to get lots of sun today if I don’t do it often.”
Fact: “Exposure to occasional periods of intense sunlight puts you at greater risk of melanoma than spending long hours in the sun.” (Mayo Clinic)
Myth: “UV strikes only from direct sunlight.”
Fact: It also reflects off water, snow, concrete, sand and many other substances. Indirect and direct exposure compound to be particularly damaging.
Myth: “The sun’s height is the only factor affecting the degree of UV risk.”
Fact: UV is most dangerous during peak sun hours (10 AM-4 PM). Other factors also increase its assault. Higher altitudes or proximity to the equator entail less protective atmosphere. UV reflects off nearby objects. Perspiration and dirt increase skin’s susceptibility.