Do you believe a tan makes a person look healthy? You are not alone. A recent Blue Cross Blue Shield Association Health of America study found 53 percent of millennials believe getting a tan is a sign of health. It’s a misconception that can have serious consequences.
“I just didn’t do anything to prevent bad sunburns when I was a teen,” Angel Champion said.
Years of “laying out” and using tanning beds caught up with Champion at age 29. She found she had basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
Skin cancer affects five in 100 women in the United States, according to the Health of America study.
Sixty-eight percent of Americans know skin cancer is the most common cancer, yet less than half wear the highest SPF available.
While sunscreen is important, it isn’t enough.
Keep these guidelines in mind as you venture into the sun:
• Seek the shade – Whenever possible, find or make shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher – apply 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating
• Keep newborns out of the sun – Sunscreen should only be used on babies over the age of six months
• Cover up – Wear a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a monthly head-to-toe self-examination of your skin. Look for any new moles or growths, and any existing growths that begin to grow or change. Moles or growths that itch, bleed or don’t heal are also signs of possible skin cancer.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests using the ABCDE rule:
• A is for asymmetrical. Does the mole or spot have an irregular shape?
• B is for border. Is the border irregular or jagged?
• C is for color. Is the color uneven?
• D is for diameter. Is it larger than the size of a pea?
• E is for evolving. Has the mole or spot changed?
Champion is a skin cancer survivor. She avoids the sun and offers this advice to would-be sun worshippers: “Make the choice to be pale. At least you have a choice, then.”