There’s good and bad news about skin cancer: More people are using sunscreen, but skin cancer rates are rising!
For one thing, a lot of people aren’t using enough sunscreen – or reapplying it often enough. Also, some products only protect against the ultraviolet “B” rays that cause sunburn, not the ultraviolet “A” rays that are also associated with skin cancer. So, here’s the right way to protect yourself from the sun:
First: Choose the right sunscreen. What you’re looking for is something labeled “broad spectrum protection.” That tells you the product filters out both UVA and UVB rays. As far as SPF, anything lower than 15 won’t protect against cancer. But studies show that products with SPFs above 50 are equally dangerous because they give people a false sense of security. Also, don’t forget to check the ingredients. The tried-and-true active ingredients for sunscreen are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Those are physical sunscreens – meaning they sit on top of the skin and physically block some of the sun’s rays. But avoid anything that contains vitamin A or retinol. It may sound good, because those ingredients fight wrinkles. But they also increase sun sensitivity, and make the sunscreen less effective.
Also: Limit your sun exposure. Dermatologist Dr. Steven Wang says sunscreen is just one line of defense. To completely protect yourself, you should wear a hat, a shirt with sleeves, and a cover-up whenever possible. Protect yourself out for reflected sunlight off of sand and water And stay in the shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest - that’s especially crucial for children. Because getting just ONE bad sunburn when you’re young DOUBLES your risk of melanoma skin cancer as an adult.