"http://www.stamfordplus.com/stm/information/nws1/publish/News_1/index.shtml - News</head> : Health Published: May 25, 2012 - 3:36 PM

DPH: Summer is coming, protect your skin from the sun

By Department of Public Health

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Hartford, CT - As summer approaches, the Department of Public Health reminds the public of the dangers of skin cancer and to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors. DPH joins the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and other health organizations in recognizing the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day” to highlight sun safety.

“As warm weather approaches and more people enjoy the outdoors, the risk for ultraviolet (UV) damage of the skin increases,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “While outside enjoying the nice weather, it is important to take simple steps like putting on sunscreen and wearing protective clothing to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. Protecting your skin not only helps prevent skin damage, it also helps prevent skin cancer.”

According to federal health officials, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and the most common cancer among 20 to 30 year-olds. It's estimated that one American dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In Connecticut, there were 930 cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in 2009, and 100 deaths from the disease.

State health officials encourage Connecticut residents to protect their skin to help reduce rates of skin cancer from overexposure to the sun’s UV rays. Because no single step can fully protect you and your family from overexposure to UV radiation, DPH suggests following the tips below as possible:

• Avoid sun burning, intentional tanning, and using indoor tanning. Use sunless self-tanning products instead.

• Apply sunscreen generously (SPF 15 or higher and containing both UVA and UVB protection is recommended)

• Wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses

• Seek shade, especially during midday hours

• Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand due to reflection

• Get vitamin D safely through food and vitamin D supplements

Individuals with lighter-toned skin are more susceptible to UV damage, although people of all races and ethnicities can be at risk for skin cancer. Those who have a family history of skin cancer, plenty of moles or freckles, or a history of severe sunburns early in life are at a higher risk of skin cancer. To minimize the harmful effects of excessive and unprotected sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a life-long practice for everyone.

Fortunately, skin cancer can be prevented and is highly curable if found early. The best way to detect skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly and recognize changes in moles and skin growths.

For more information, visit the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention website at www.skincancerprevention.org or call (301) 801-4422.

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