Protect yourself: Cases of skin cancer in Canada on the rise
Thursday, May 29, 2014, 8:50 AM - As we inch closer to the summer season, days continue to get longer and hotter.
While many have been anxiously awaiting the warmer weather, experts say to keep sun safety in mind.
"There is room for improvement because we are seeing the impact of people not using precautions," says Dr. Jerry Predy, senior medical officer of health at Alberta's Health Services.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, skin cancer, one of the most preventable forms of the disease, is also one of the fastest-rising in the country.
In a report released Wednesday, the society expects over 80,000 skin cancer cases in Canada this year, which is nearly the same number of cases of the top four cancers combined: lung, breast, prostate and colorectal.
"In Alberta alone, we see around 7,000 cases of skin cancer each and every year," says Dr. Predy.
It's been drilled into our heads that when we go out in the sun we've got to use sunscreen, but believe it or not, many people either forget to apply it or don't apply it correctly.
Officials say finding the right sunscreen is important. SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.
You should also remember to look for the words, "broad spectrum protection" on the label as this will protect against UVA rays, which can cause cancer and wrinkles.
Frequent application is also important. Applying sunscreen every two hours and after a swim is encouraged, even if the label says the sunscreen is water resistant.
"Apply generously," experts say, adding that almost no one applies enough sunscreen.
Lastly, toss out the old sunscreen. It starts to lose its effectiveness after three years.
Wearing a hat, protective clothing and not going out into the sun at its strongest are also things to keep in mind.
The Weather Network provides UV index updates multiple times a day, but what does the UV index mean for you?
"The higher the index, the higher the risk of getting sun damage or sun burn," says Dr. Preddy. "So people should keep an eye on that, but also realize that even when the UV index is low if you're going to be outdoors for more than an hour, you should still take appropriate precautions."