Don’t Fry Day: Sun safety advice for the unofficial start of summer

TGIF – Thank goodness it’s Friday!  “Don’t Fry Day” that is.

Every year the Friday before Memorial Day is known as “Don’t Fry Day” to help with awareness regarding sun protection as we enter the summer months.  The campaign started in 2009 in partnership by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency.

When I mentioned to my sister that today is “Don’t Fry Day” she thought that meant no fried foods today…  At first I laughed, but then realized she was on the right track: we’re not recommending not frying your food, but we are recommending not frying your skin!

Why care about sun safety?

Since Memorial Day weekend is the gateway into the summer months, this weekend, in particular, is notorious for horrendous sunburns.  Winter warriors hit the beaches with pale winter skin and the goal of getting a golden brown tan, but instead some turn as red as a lobster.  This resulting sunburn from too much ultraviolet light (UV) exposure is dangerous and can increase your risk of getting skin cancer.

Some facts about skin cancer courtesy of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

  • Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.. More than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancers are diagnosed in more than 2.2 million people annually.
  • It is estimated that one American dies every hour from skin cancer.
  • Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.
  • One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.
  • The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that 12,650 people will die  from skin cancer in 2013, mostly due to malignant melanoma, which is among the fastest rising cancers in the U.S.
  • Melanoma is the second most common form of cancer for young adults 15-29 years old.

PHOTOS: 7 Reasons not to fry

Severe sunburn. A severe sunburn of this magnitude can cause major damage to skin cells. Source: www.crh.noaa.gov
Severe sunburn. A severe sunburn of this magnitude can cause major and permanent damage to skin cells. Damage that could increase your chance of skin cancer. Source: www.crh.noaa.gov
Severe sunburn. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
Another very severe sunburn. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC). This is the most common type of skin cancer, and often shows up as a red patch, pink growth, or shiny bump. Source: www.cancer.gov
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC). This is the most common type of skin cancer, and often shows up as a red patch, pink growth, or shiny bump. Source: www.cancer.gov
squamous3
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). This is the second most common form of skin cancer and can look like a raised growth, discolored rough patch, or resemble warts. Source: www.cdc.gov
Melanoma. The most dangerous and deadly type of skin cancer. Manifests as multi-colored moles of erratic shapes and sizes. Source: www.adaweb.net
Melanoma. The most dangerous and deadly type of skin cancer but still treatable if caught early. Manifests as multi-colored moles of erratic shapes and sizes. Source: www.adaweb.net
Skin cancer on the nose. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
Skin cancer on the nose. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
Skin cancer on the neck. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention
Skin cancer on the neck. Source: National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention

Six tips for preventing severe sunburns

Yikes! Now that we’ve shocked you with some photos, here are some tips from the EPA to put sun-safety into action:

  • Wear protective clothing in the sun; wear a hat that shades the face, neck and ears; and plan outdoor activities around the midday sun.
  • Examine the skin regularly. Suspicious lesions or progressive changes in a lesion’s appearance or size should be evaluated promptly by a physician.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect eyes from UV light.
  • Use a sunscreen with a broad spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher and apply a generous amount (about a palmful) to all exposed skin 15-20 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen every two hours throughout the day, especially after swimming, sweating, or towel drying. Use sunscreen even on hazy days.
  • Avoid artificial sources of UV light (sunlamps, tanning beds).
  • An easy way to remember these important sun safety tips is: Slip, Slop, Slap… and WrapSlip on a shirt, Slop on broad spectrum sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher), Slap on a hat, and Wrap on some sunglasses.

In addition to the tips above, here are some other great resources at your disposal to ensure you have a safe summer in the sun:

For smart phone users: Get the EPA “UV Index” App

For kids: The EPA provides coloring activities targeting sun-safety.

For vacationers: A sun-safety packing list from the National Council on Skin Care Prevention

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention even has a Twitter! Follow them for sun-safety tips @DontFryDay

Related:

Sun Safety: Don’t Fry Day Friday

Don’t Fry Day: Today and every day

Don’t Fry Day: Smart tips to prevent sunburn and skin cancer

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Jason Samenow · May 24, 2013

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