Alberta Health Services
The skin is the body’s largest organ. It covers your entire body and protects it from injury, infection and UV rays from the sun. Skin also helps control your body temperature and gets rid of waste through sweat.
Melanoma usually starts on the skin and it is malignant, meaning it can spread. When these cells change and become abnormal, they can cause pre-cancerous conditions. According to the World Health Organization, the global incidence of melanoma continues to increase. But there are a few things you can do to protect your skin.
Always practice sun safety habits including using shaded areas between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. when UV radiation is highest. Wear sun protective clothing that covers as much of your body as possible and a wide brimmed hat that provides shade for your face, neck and ears.
Choose UVA/UVB wrap-around sunglasses and apply SPF 30+ broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen on clean, dry skin at least 15 minutes before going out into the sun. Reapply every two hours when outside.
Avoid indoor tanning equipment such as tanning beds or stand-up tanning. Tanning indoors increases one’s risk for developing melanoma and other forms of skin cancer by 75 per cent.
According to the Melanoma Network of Canada, the number one preventable risk factor for the most common form of melanoma is overexposure to ultraviolet radiation. Overexposure to the sun and other sources of ultraviolet radiation are known to cause harm to the skin, eyes and the immune system.
For more information about melanoma and cancer prevention, visit AlbertaPreventsCancer.ca. Details on a variety of other health related topics can be found at ahs.ca and myhealth.alberta.ca. Guidance and health advice are also available 24/7 by calling Health Link at 811.