American Cancer Society exposes myths about skin cancer

American Cancer Society exposes myths about skin cancer July is UV Safety Month and the American Cancer Society wants to set the record straight on myths about skin cancer, and encourage people to practice sun safety with the phrase "Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap" ¬– Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or more, Slap on a hat, and Wrap on sunglasses. The Society estimates that more than 1 million cases of basal cell or squamous cell cancers occur annually.  They predict 68,720 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, this year.  In South Dakota, 180 cases of melanoma are expected.  But according to the Society, there's a lot people can do to protect themselves from skin cancer, starting with getting the facts straight. Skin cancer myths that you might have heard: Myth: In order for sunlight to cause skin cancer, you must get sunburned. Fact: While it is true that those who sunburn are more likely to get skin cancer than those who do not, sunlight damages the skin whether a sunburn occurs or not. Many people do not realize that tanning is actually skin damage. Myth: Children need lots of exposure to natural sunlight to be healthy. Fact: Sunlight helps make vitamin D in the skin which has health benefits. However, only a few minutes of sunlight each day are needed. Avoiding sunlight during the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. are recommended. Most scientists agree that foods high in vitamin D, such as dairy products, are just as effective as sunlight. Myth: Only older people get skin cancer, and only after a lifetime of sun exposure. Fact:  People of every age need to protect their skin. Anyone is vulnerable to skin cancer.  In fact, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for people ages 15-29 years of age, a number that doubles if he or she has had five sunburns in their lifetime. Myth: Tanning beds are harmless. Fact: According to the Society, tanning lamps give out UV rays, which cause serious long-term skin damage and can lead to skin cancer. Since most skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV rays, people should avoid sunlamps and tanning beds. For general sun safety, the Society recommends wearing protective clothing when out in the sun, wearing a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and wearing a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears. A vast amount of information about skin cancer is on the internet, but some of it is confusing and questionable. Get the facts from the Society. Get more facts on skin cancer at the American Cancer Society Web site at www.cancer.org/ or call the Society at 1-800-227-2345.

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