No one is completely safe from the sun. In Canada, sunlight is strong enough to cause skin cancer, premature aging of the skin and harm to the eyes.
If you work outdoors, your exposure to the sun may be much more frequent and prolonged. To protect yourself, cover up, wear sunglasses with UVA and UVB protection, and wear a broad spectrum sunscreen. Because your exposure is higher than most people, use a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. When working outdoors, sunscreen needs to be applied frequently to skin that isn’t covered with clothing or when not working in the shade. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to hands, ears, feet (when wearing sandals) back of the neck and arms – places we forget to cover.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and it’s also one of the most preventable. UV radiation causes about 90% of melanoma cases. The incidence of melanoma skin cancer has increased significantly among men and women during the past 25 years.
Enjoy the sun safely: protect your skin and protect your eyes. Reduce your risk of skin cancer by using SunSense and talk to your doctor about any changes to your skin.
There are 3 types of ultraviolet (UV) rays:
- Ultraviolet A rays (UVA) make up most of the sun’s natural light. They can penetrate deep into the skin, causing wrinkles and premature aging of the skin.
- Ultraviolet B rays (UVB) are the main cause of sunburn. They are nearly 1,000 times stronger than UVA rays.
- Ultraviolet C rays (short-wave radiation) never reach the earth’s surface because the atmosphere filters them out.
UV rays can get through clouds, fog and haze. Water, sand, concrete and especially snow can reflect, and even increase, the sun’s rays. We are exposed to more UV rays as the protective layer of ozone around the earth becomes thinner due to the effects of pollution and chemicals.
You have a higher risk of skin cancer if you:
- have light-coloured skin, eyes or hair
- work, play or exercise in the sun for long periods of time
- had several blistering sunburns as a child
- take drugs that make you more sensitive to UV light
- use indoor tanning
Debbie Marson is the Community Fundraising Specialist at the North Bay & District Community office for the Canadian Cancer Society. She is responsible for the planning and implementation of events at the local level, contributing to enhancing the quality and profile of the Society fundraising in the community. Her passion is sharing the Canadian Cancer Society’s message on the importance of regular cancer screening and preventing cancer before it starts by reducing cancer risks, healthy eating and active living; as well as advocating government agencies to make changes that ensure cancer takes fewer lives.