Let’s talk about your skin... and cancer prevention

by Gary Trenaman 01 Jul 2020

Let's Talk About Your Skin

 
Overexposure to UV radiation causes more than 95 per cent of skin cancers. Many people believe that if you have a skin cancer removed, it’s gone, however secondary cancers can form in your bones, your lungs, your heart or your head.  

While it’s important to have skin cancers surgically removed early, preventing them from occurring is vastly preferable. Another common misconception is that we need exposure to the sun to get the Vitamin D we need for good health, however incidental exposure outside of peak UV periods is sufficient for most people to maintain adequate Vitamin D levels.  



Remember:

  • Exposing your skin to the sun when the UV index is 3 or above increases your risk of developing skin cancer. UV radiation is a Group 1 carcinogen that you can’t see or feel, so get this great Sunsmart app on your phone to alert you. (Yes, it’s in the same group as tobacco, formaldehyde and plutonium).
  • To maintain adequate Vitamin D levels, short bursts of sun (outside peak UV periods) are better, as the body can only absorb a set amount at a time but your body can rely on its stores of Vitamin D for 30 to 60 days.
  • Exposing yourself to UV radiation in a solarium will damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer. That’s why they’re commercially illegal in Australia.
  • Check your skin regularly for any new spots or changes in shape, colour or size of existing spots. If you notice anything unusual and at least annually, ask your GP for a skin cancer check.



Protect your skin

We all know the jingle – so stop now and think about what changes you can make to your lifestyle: 

  • Slip on clothing that covers your shoulders, arms and legs.
  • Slop on SPF 30+ or higher broad spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen 20 minutes before heading outdoors and then reapply every 2 hours. The average sized adult needs about 7 teaspoons of sunscreen for their whole body (35ml).  Be sure to check the expiry date and not to miss behind your ears and knees.
  • Slap on a broad brimmed hat that protects your face, ears and neck.
  • Seek shade whenever you can, especially when the UV levels are highest (generally 10am–to 2pm or 11am–to 3pm during daylight savings).
  • Slide on sunglasses that fit your face well and wrap around the sides of your face.