June 4, 2021

UW Health kicks off summer with sun safety tips

Madison, Wis. — As summer ramps up and school comes to an end, people will be spending more time outdoors, so Dr. Apple Bodemer, UW Health dermatologist, wants to offer sun safety tips.

According to Bodemer, skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer over their lifetime and 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the U.S.

The best way to reduce your risk of skin cancer is to reduce exposure to UV radiation, Bodemer said.

“It starts in childhood. Blistering sun burns for kids and teens increases their risk of skin cancer later in life,” said Bodemer. “Five or more blistering burns before the age of 20 increases the risk of melanoma by 80% and non-melanoma skin cancer by 68%.”

She said there are some key steps you can take to reduce your risk while still enjoying time outdoors this summer.

  • Avoid midday sun (between 12-3 p.m.). This is when UV rays are most intense.

  • Seek shade

  • Wear protective clothing including UPF rated clothing, wide brimmed hats and sunglasses.

  • Wear broad spectrum sunscreen. Reapply often.

  • Eat a lot of fruits and veggies because these contain an abundance to phytonutrients including antioxidants that can help the body repair UV radiation-induced DNA damage.

Bodemer also said tanning beds should never be used. Using tanning beds before age 30 can increase a person’s risk of melanoma by 75%, she said.

Early detection is key, as survival rates for skin cancer are approximately 90% when the cancer is caught early. That is why it is important to routinely self-check, ask your doctor for skin examinations, and be aware of any new marks or moles on your body.