What Causes Skin Cancer?

Most people love to be out in the sun. However, prolonged sun exposure puts people at greater risk of getting skin cancer. Many may not know that there are two types of harmful ultraviolet rays emitted from the sun, UVA and UVB rays. These can both lead to skin cancer, including the most deadly form, melanoma. High amounts of sun exposure can also cause sun damage to the skin, shown by wrinkling and early aging. UVB rays specifically cause burns, cataracts. And can even affect the body’s immune system. 

So how can people protect themselves while still enjoying time outdoors?


First, it’s a good idea to avoid spending time outside when the sun is at its brightest, typically between the hours of 11 am and 3 pm. Skin cancer and other forms of sun damage won’t be caused by one specific beach day or tanning session, it’s more of a build-up of UV exposure over time. That means that the majority of skin damage actually results from performing everyday activities outside such as gardening or going to a park. That’s why it is important to wear sunscreen as much as possible whenever you will be outside for long periods of time, not just when you are at the beach. 

Another way to protect yourself from the sun’s rays is to cover as much of your exposed skin as you can, especially if you burn easily. For example, if you plan to do a lot of yard work, wearing a wide brim hat is a good way to keep the sun off of your face, neck, and shoulders. 

Since there are two different types of UV rays, ideally, you will want to buy a sunscreen that clearly states that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays. Not surprisingly, the higher the SPF, the more protection is offered by the sunscreen, since that represents how much UV radiation is absorbed through the lotion or spray you are using. 

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