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NEWS | July 23, 2013

UV Safety Month - Are you being "Sun Smart"?

By Jose T. Garza Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2 million people each year.

Skin cancer is commonly caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun.

July's UV Safety Month educates people on skin cancer and gives them tips on how to protect themselves from it.

Lt. Col Jason Arnold, staff dermatologist at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Clinic, advises people to practice safe sun activities.

"If possible, you should avoid times of day when the sun is going to be the most intense, so if you can, avoid activities from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m."

Arnold suggests people protect themselves with plenty of sunscreen and wear sun protective clothing if they want to be outside during those hours.

This advice pertains in particular to athletes who are active outdoors.

Arnold advises bike riders to wear long-sleeve shirts and gloves due to the arm area receiving the most exposure from the sun. Runners should protect their faces at all times by applying sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before they go out so it can absorb into the skin.

Athletes and non-athletes should wear sunscreen with a sun protective factor of 30 or higher. The protective wear should also be labeled "broad spectrum" because it may not protect against UVA rays, which are another form of harmful UV radiation from the sun.

"If you're going to be out in the sun for prolonged periods, you should reapply sunscreen," Arnold said. "A lot of people don't use enough sunscreen. You need to read the labels and put a generous amount on. You should work to rub (the sunscreen) in."

Arnold doesn't have any particular brands of sunscreen he would recommend to anybody, but he suggests they experiment with different types that may be resistant to sweat.

For people who enjoy getting a tan indoors through a tanning bed, Arnold councils them not to use it due to its ultraviolet light potentially being a cause for melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

"If Melanoma is left untreated or diagnosed at a later stage, it can be deadly," Arnold said.