In the summer we all spend plenty of hours in the sun, so should you be concerned about melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer? The rate of melanoma is rising more rapidly than that of any other cancer. The incidence has increased not only among younger (under age 30) Americans, but also among those age 60 and over. Older men in particular, have higher melanoma incidence and mortality rates than the general population. This year nearly 8,000 people will die of the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute, and about half of them will be white men over the age of 50. Play it safe in the sun by observing the following tips:

  • First and foremost, limit sun exposure – especially from 10AM to 4PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Never use tanning beds or sun lamps, which can increase the melanoma risk.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses that protect your eyes from ultraviolet A and B rays (UVA and UVB).
  • Wear long sleeves and pants made with tightly woven fabrics.
  • Sit in the shade or under an umbrella at the beach, even if it’s cloudy.
  • Wear sunscreen with a 30SPF or higher with wide spectrum UVA and UVB protection. Reapply often and liberally, especially after swimming or exercise. Consider using sun-screen with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, physical sun blocking agents that offer maximum protection.
  • And finally, remember that you can get melanoma even if you wear sunscreen. Use it in conjunction with other measures.
Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health after 50

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