Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada. Making lifelong efforts to protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation is important to reduce the risk and prevent the development of cancer. Four main strategies are recommended when it comes to UV protection:
1. Limit skin exposure to the midday sun
- There has been much debate over the safety of skin exposure to the midday sun. Some researchers have recently suggested that short exposure to the midday sun is an excellent way to maximise vitamin D production in the skin. What is clear is that sun damage should be avoided. The recommendation was to expose your skin to the sun for a very short period, from 6.5 to 11 minutes depending on your location.
- Always seek the shade outdoors, especially between 10 am and 4 pm. If you chose to expose your skin to the midday sun, keep this exposure to a minimal.
2. When exposed to the sun wear appropriate protective clothing
- Covering the skin with protective clothing can significantly reduce the risk of UV damage. Unfortunately this simple and effective approach is often overlooked because it can be at odds with fashion trends.
3. Refrain from indoor tanning
- UV-emitting tanning devices are now classified as class 1 cacinogens.[i] This mean that: The agent is known to cause cancer in humans. Research has shown that in some tanning beds, a single session exposes the user an amount of UVA radiation equivalent to 10% of the typically annual dose.[ii] Studies also show that the use of indoor tanning equipment increases the risk of some types of skin cancer by 67%.[iii]
- Do not use sunscreen to justify spending more time in the sun.
- Sunscreen remains an important UV protection strategy for many people although this should not be your only mode of photoprotection.
- Remember that sunscreen needs to be applied frequently and evenly to function effectively. Studies have reported that many users are not using sunscreen properly and get less than half the SPF rating due to improper use.
- Sunscreen should be applied to all areas of the skin that are exposed to the sun and not protected by clothing. You should apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to going in the sun when possible. Apply sufficient amounts of sunscreen – most adults require about two tablespoon for proper coverage. Reapply often especially when swimming or sweating.
Dr. Ludovic Brunel graduated with a degree in Human Nutrition from McGill University in Montreal and pursued his studies in Naturopathic Medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto. Ludo is an exceptional physician with strong clinical skills grounded in scientific knowledge. He has helped design and formulated several dietary supplements for some of the most advanced nutraceutical companies in Canada. Dr. Ludo has also helped develop and implement wellness strategies for corporations and businesses looking to improve the health and happiness of their employees.
[i] Cogliano VJ1, Baan R, Straif K, Grosse Y, Lauby-Secretan B, El Ghissassi F, Bouvard V, Benbrahim-Tallaa L, Guha N, Freeman C, Galichet L, Wild CP. Preventable exposures associated with human cancers. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Dec 21;103(24):1827-39.
[ii] National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2011.
[iii] Wehner MR, Shive ML, Chren MM, et al. Indoor tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2012;345:e5909