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Are you at risk for skin cancer?

Por Violeta Chacón, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -

Have you ever thought about the skin damage caused by sun rays? Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and the best measure you can take to prevent it is to avoid the harmful sun rays. Find out how! 

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), exposure to sunlight is the main cause of skin  cancer.   Ultraviolet raysdamage the DNA molecules in skin cells. These damaged cells multiply uncontrollably, until they form a tumor. The good news is that these lesions are easily detectable through a rigorous examination of the skin. Early detection can save your life. 

Most tumors in the skin can be prevented through an adequate protection from the sun. To do this, the AAD recommends following these steps: 

  • Avoid tanning on purpose:  Exposing to sunlight for a long time can increase up to 5 times your risk of cancer. In addition, it accelerates skin aging by promoting wrinkles, blemishes, and flaccidity.
  • Stay away from tanning beds:  Tanning beds and lamps emit harmful rays that can damage your skin just as direct sun rays do. If you'd like to get a healthy-looking tan, consider using a sunless, self-tanning lotion. However, keep in mind that they don’t provide sunscreen protection, so it’s necessary for you to wear one.
  • Include Vitamin D in your diet:  Sun exposure stimulates your skin to produce vitamin D. However, you can always find this vitamin in a diet that includes enough milk,  fish and fortified cereals.
  • Wear sunscreen every day:
    • Choose a sunscreen lotion with a sun protection factor of at least 15 (SPF 15), so it provides you with protection against UVA and UVB radiation.
    • According to the AAD, the amount of sunscreen you should apply daily on the exposed parts of your body is equivalent to what is necessary to fill a Tequila cup.
    • Many tumors appear in parts of the body where we usually don’t apply sunscreen. Don’t forget about your ears, nose, hands, feet, and lips. You’ll find sunscreen sticks for your lips at the supermarket.
    • If you have dry skin, apply sunscreen lotion 15 to 30 minutes before going out. Reapply every two hours.
    • If you swim or sweat, make sure to reapply the sunscreen lotion.
    • Keep in mind that sunscreen doesn’t protect you for a very long time. Seek shade and avoid prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Wear sun-protective clothing:  The AAD recommends using long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Seek shade:The rays of the sun are strongest from ten o'clock until 4 pm.
  • Protect your skin during winter:  Water and snow reflect the sun's harmful rays, so it’s important to wear sunscreen even during the winter.
  • Check your skin every year:  The most common signs that indicate you might need to visit the dermatologist are changes in the shape, size, edges, and/or color of moles. Moreover, if you find lesions that bleed or change in texture, you’ll probably need a more rigorous examination of your skin. It’s very important to perform this evaluation of your skin every year.

If your skin is healthy, it will look radiant and young, so don’t forget about sunscreen before going out.

For more information visit: 


SkinCancerNet A comprehensive online skin cancer information resource (2008) American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved on January, 2008 from: 

Skin Cancer Facts (2009) Skin Cancer Foundation. Retrieved on January, 2008 from:


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