Tips for a sun safe summer

photo of the sun shining
Friday, July 21, 2017

It’s summertime! Time to celebrate the outdoors, enjoy an afternoon at the beach with family, or relax with a good book poolside. The longer days and warmer temperatures beckon for us to soak up every moment. While it’s important that we enjoy the summer (many of us wait eight months of the year to do so!), it’s also important to remember to use a little "sun sense" when spending time outdoors.

In Canada, sunlight is strong enough to cause skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it's also one of the most preventable. Skin plays a vital role in keeping you healthy. It is the largest organ in your body, and it protects you from things like dehydration, the sun, bacterial infections, and pollution. That being said, there are limits to your skin's ability to protect you. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation -- also known as UV rays -- damages the DNA of your skin cells, which can cause skin cancer.

UV rays can get through clouds, fog, and haze. Water, sand, concrete and especially snow can reflect, and even increase the sun's rays. Our exposure to UV rays increases as the protective layer of ozone around the earth becomes thinner due to the effects of pollution and chemicals. We know that the main source of UV radiation is the sun, but indoor tanning equipment, such as tanning beds and sun lamps are also sources of UV. With UV radiation causing about 90% of melanoma cases and the incidence of melanoma on the rise, sun safety isn’t something to sweep under the rug. 

Maybe you’re thinking, “but what about Vitamin D”? We know that Vitamin D is an important part of maintaining healthy bones and muscles, especially in children and the elderly. There is also evidence that vitamin D may reduce the risk of some types of cancer, particularly colorectal and breast cancers. Your skin produces vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, but you don’t need a tan to get benefits from the sun. For most people, just a few minutes out in the sun – the short, casual exposure you get while going about daily life – will be enough for most people.

So what can you do to be sun safe and lower your risk for skin cancer? Click on sun safety tips below to learn more.

 Information provided by the Canadian cancer society.