July is UV awareness month

July 14, 2016

California has some of the most beautiful weather in the country, but those beautiful sunny days can expose us to harmful side effects if we aren’t prepared.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer in children and adults, and is the most common cancer in California and the nation. Tanning beds and some welding equipment are also known to cause skin cancer. 

Approximately 128,000 Californians will get skin cancer this year and one out of every five people in California will get skin cancer in his or her lifetime. The federal government has classified UV rays as a known human carcinogen because of their extreme likelihood of causing skin cancer.

UV rays can be harmful to both adults and children, but children are particularly sensitive, especially before age ten. Children’s risk of developing skin cancer later in life is increased if they get sunburns and/or tan.

The good news is that skin cancer caused by UV radiation can be prevented. The California Department of Public Health suggests that to prevent skin cancer you should decrease the time you spent outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., wear full-length clothing and a hat with a wide brim and neck flaps, wear UV-protective sunglasses, seek shade, apply sunscreen SPF 30 or higher to exposed skin, use lip balm SPF 30 or higher and avoid tanning beds.

Additionally, people should be aware that cancer-causing UV rays are the strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., from mid-spring through mid-fall, at higher altitudes, concentrating an extra 6 percent per 1,000 feet gain in elevation and with a lack of thick cloud cover.

You can find additional information about UV safety on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website:  https://www.cdph.ca.gov. The website provides resources and tips on how to stay safe from cancer-causing UV radiation.

The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to have a fun and safe summer, and I encourage everyone to take the steps necessary to become educated on this issue to protect yourself and your family.  

*Published by the Morgan Hill Times on 7/14/16