Did you know that skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States? One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, is responsible for most of the deaths from skin cancer. The number of people diagnosed with skin cancer is expected to increase as the ozone layer, which acts as a sunshield, continues to deplete. Too much sun can also result in premature aging of the skin. Consider using sunscreen year-round as a preventative health measure.

The most obvious way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the sun, especially when the sun’s rays are strongest. But staying out of the sun is not really an option for many of us. The answer is to always wear sunscreen – even on cloudy days! Sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. These rays come in two forms: UVA and UVB. The UVA rays are associated with the signs of aging skin: fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. UVA rays can pass through glass, meaning you are exposed to them while in a car or sitting in front of windows. The UVB rays are most commonly associated with sunburns. Both types of ultraviolet rays can cause skin cancer.

When choosing a sunscreen, opt for one that has a high SPF. Most dermatologists recommend using an SPF of at least 30, even on overcast days. A sunscreen that is sweat and water-resistant is helpful if you are exercising outdoors. Whatever type of sunscreen you choose, be sure to apply liberally and re-apply every few hours if you are outdoors.

As the first line of defense against skin cancer and premature aging, make the use of sunscreen a daily habit.