Most people of all ages spend time outdoors where we live, work and play. Sun safe behaviours need to be a part of that routine. While many of us enjoy a sunny day, sun exposure is directly linked to skin cancer. The ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun cause sunburn, premature wrinkling and photoaging of the skin as well as skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Ontario accounting for about 1/3 of all new cancer diagnosis. Skin cancer may take 10 to 30 years to appear on the skin after the sun exposure occurs. Change your odds of getting skin cancer! Every sunburn, especially severe blistering sunburns during childhood, increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer during their lifetime. No one can change sunburns they have received in the past but everyone can prevent sunburns from today onward.
Who is most at risk?
- Children—babies and young children are typically well protected by both parents and caregivers. Childhood sunburns greatly increase your skin cancer risk in later life.
- School-aged children—6-12 year olds are beginning to be responsible for their own sun safety and don’t always practice sun protective behaviours as well as they did when they were younger.
- Teenagers and young adults—a high risk group who often are aware of sun protective behaviours but decide to use few or none of them and are often employed in summer jobs that may have them working outside. Also among adults, young adults are the most likely to try to get a tan, either from the sun or by using tanning equipment.
- Outdoor workers—persons who work outside also tend to spend more of their leisure time outdoors than other adults. Lifetime sun exposure adds up putting this group at a higher risk for developing skin cancer.
- People who are fair skinned, a tendency to freckle, sunburn repeatedly rather than tan, have pale coloured eyes—grey, green or blue and light coloured hair.
- Transplant recipients especially of solid organs such as liver, kidneys, heart or anyone who is immunosuppressed.