Consumer Reports: Prevent skin cancer with sunscreen

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Nearly five million people are treated for skin cancer in the United States every year. Consumer Reports offers three simple steps to avoid skin cancer this summer. (WLS)

Nearly five million people are treated for skin cancer in the United States every year. This makes it the most common form of cancer in the country. But it is often preventable. Consumer Reports offers three simple steps to avoid skin cancer this summer and beyond.

About a third of American adults get sunburned each year. If you've spent any time in the sun, chances are you have a sunburn story to share.

Sunburns can increase your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

"It's very important to understand that skin cancer is preventable," said Dr. Maritza Perez, a dermatologist.

The best way to avoid skin cancer is to shield yourself from the sun's ultraviolet rays. The first step in skin cancer prevention is to use the right sunscreen and apply it properly.

"Consumer Reports recommends using a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients, such as avobenzone. You want to put it on 15 minutes before you go outside," said Trisha Calvo, Consumer Reports Health Editor.

It's also important to remember that sunscreen can't give you 100 percent protection.
The second step in skin cancer prevention is to always use clothing to cover your skin, sunglasses to protect your eyes and wide-brimmed hats to protect your ears and the back of your neck.

The third step is to seek shade, like a beach umbrella or a leafy tree, especially during midday hours. The sun's rays are at its strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. during the spring and summer and between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the fall and winter.

Even if it's cloudy, up to 90 percent of the sun's harmful UV rays can penetrate your skin

"You need to prevent sun exposure on a daily basis because the sun is out there with you, and it's attacking your skin the same way it would do if you were at the beach," Perez said.

If you do get sunburned, Consumer Reports recommends taking a cool shower or bath and using a soothing lotion, like aloe vera. Take an anti-inflammatory like aspirin or ibuprofen and drink plenty of water. If the burn is severe, see a doctor.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
Related Topics:
healthconsumer reportssunscreenskin cancer