What are the most important things you can do to reduce your skin cancer risk?

One of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk is to protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation. UV rays are the part of sunlight that causes skin cancer and skin aging. Tanning beds also emit UV radiation. Anyone can develop skin cancer, no matter how dark their skin. You can protect your skin by taking steps to avoid and protect yourself from UV rays. Wear sunscreen, Choose a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Look for broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

You should wear sunscreen all year around, and even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going out and use at least 1 ounce – about the size of a golf ball. Cover each part of your body exposed to the sun. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Spray sunscreen should be applied more often.

There are two types of sunscreens: Physical blockers sit on the surface of the skin and reflect UV rays away from your skin like a shield or mirror would. Their main ingredients are zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, minerals that are ground into fine particles. Chemical sunscreens form a thin protective film that absorbs UV radiation before it penetrates the skin. Physical sunscreens tend to cause less irritation and allergic reactions. They are not absorbed through the skin but may be thicker and appear more white on the skin. Chemical sunscreen ingredients tend to be lighter and easier to apply. Physical, mineral-based sunscreens are safer and more effective. There are many products with physical sunscreens on the market. The important thing is to try different ones until you find one that you like and will use regularly.

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