Skin cancer awareness encouraged as summer begins

(WIAT) — This Memorial Day weekend, thousands of people will pack Alabama’s beaches.

If you’re planning to hit the beach, the lake, or the pool, remember that the sun’s rays pose a real threat.

Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S. That’s why it’s so important to protect yourself, but more importantly, your children.

As you celebrate the unofficial start to summer, remember this phrase:

“It’s slip, slop, slap and wrap. So slip on a t-shirt, slop on your sunscreen, slap on a wide-brimmed hat, and wrap on your sunglasses,” said Lindsay Turner, a spokesperson for the Mid-South division of the American Cancer Society.

Slip, slop, slap and wrap. Whichever way you do it, protect your skin from the sun. Despite being the most preventable form of cancer, more than three million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year.

“Skin cancer is about half of the diagnoses when you combine all other cancers, and we know that one in five children at some point in their life will develop some form of skin cancer,” said Turner.

“I would akin it to letting your kids smoke in the 8th grade. If you wouldn’t let your kids smoke in 8th grade, you should be just as careful with sun exposure as well,” said Dr. Brian Gastman of the Cleveland Clinic.

Bad sunburns as a child may increase the risk of melanoma. One study finds melanoma in children increased by an average of 2 percent per year between 1973 and 2009. Higher rates were seen in teen girls, a group is of particular concern.

“Young women are very predispositioned for skin damage because of all the sun exposure. The ramifications for their long term life are not worth it,” said Gastman.

Research shows indoor tanning increases melanoma risk. People who have fair skin, hair and eyes are also at higher risk for melanoma.

Having more than 50 moles, large moles or strange-looking moles are also risk factors. Experts recommend applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. The good news? Skin cancers that are caught early are often easily treated.

May 22 is “don’t fry day,” the day is designed to raise awareness of skin cancer. If you’re spending time outdoors this weekend, don’t forget to slip, slop, slap and wrap.

Copyright 2015 WIAT 42 News

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