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Sun protection still low in half of U.S. population

Only half of U.S. citizens report they always or almost always protect themselves from the sun, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

In a news release on May 1, 2019, the AAD announced that in recognition of Skin Cancer Awareness Month in May and Melanoma Monday on May 6, they are encouraging U.S. citizens to use sun protection to lower their risk of developing skin cancers.

The AAD notes in the release that by some estimates as many as one in five people in the U.S. will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and that even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life.

“Nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma every day,” said board-certified dermatologist and AAD president Dr. George J. Hruza, in the release. “Exposure to the sun’s harmful UV [ultraviolet] rays is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, and there are many simple things you can do to protect yourself from the sun.”

Some of the outdoor sun protection methods Dr. Hruza recommended in the release include:

  • Seeking shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

  • Wearing protective clothing, such as a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.

  • Applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to all skin that clothing won’t cover. Remember to re-apply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

“It’s also important to remember to protect parts of your body you think might not be getting any sun,” said Dr. Hruza. “Areas like the tops of your hands, bottoms of your feet or the part in your hair may not immediately come to mind when it comes to sun protection, but they are still vulnerable to dangerous sun damage.”

As part of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, the AAD has also released a new video “Do you use Protection?” to encourage sun protection.

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