Spring and summer mean fun in the sun. Whether you’re lounging by the pool or taking a stroll in the park, protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful rays should be a top priority. Why? Skin cancer can cause plenty of problems – some really serious.
The numbers on skin cancer
The American Cancer Society reports that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed every year.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more people develop skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking.
Here’s the kicker: One in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in a lifetime.
How to decrease your risk
Reducing your risk of developing skin cancer is simple and straightforward: Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and reapply it often, wear protective clothing, and seek shade. Make sure you’re following these guidelines even on cloudy days. Sunlight can travel through cloud cover, and you could still get a serious burn.
Children are especially vulnerable to the sun’s rays as one sunburn can double the risk of developing melanoma as an adult. So if you’re a parent, take extra precautions to protect your child’s skin.
You, your family, and fellow beach-goers can still enjoy the sand, sun, and ocean while under an umbrella or wearing a hat and/or swim shirt. Plus, you can still achieve a healthy glow with sunscreen. Remember to be safe and smart at the beach and pool.
One other thing: Don’t forget to wear sunglasses. Prolonged sun exposure could lead to cataracts, according to the National Eye Institute, so protect your eyes with a pair of shades with strong UVA and UVB protection.
Tanning beds and sun lamps are little, if any, better than the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 419,000 cases in the U.S. are linked to indoor tanning each year.
The warning signs
No matter if you’re the most cautious or lax person out there when it comes to summertime skin care, perform self-evaluations periodically to see if you’re developing skin cancer. Early detection, as always with cancer, is essential.
Keep an eye out for:
- Moles that seem out of the ordinary in terms of size, shape, and color.
- A sore that isn’t healing.
- Any other change to the skin such as a new growth (even if it has no color) and the spread of pigmentation beyond the edges of a pre-existing mole or mark.
If you notice any of these changes to your skin, see a dermatologist.
Skin cancer and life insurance
Insurance providers evaluate the risk of insuring your life based on your health, habits, stature, and family history. Pre-existing conditions can often make it difficult to get approved for life insurance and to avoid paying more for it. However, skin cancer may not make finding affordable insurance such a daunting task as other conditions do.
Most people who suffer from skin cancer have normal life expectancies – depending in large part on the type of skin cancer in the diagnosis.
Basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, for example, are very treatable and typically allow those affected to qualify for standard rates and better rates once the spot is surgically removed. However, if you have skin cancer in multiple spots, you could be faced with higher premiums.
Malignant melanoma, however, can be fatal; that still doesn’t make it impossible to qualify for life insurance, though it is more difficult.
The best strategy to find acceptable coverage: Compare insurance carriers before selecting any policy.