The city of Charleston (NC) is taking skin cancer seriously, warning residents about the dangers of ultraviolet (UV) exposure from the sun and tanning beds. Skin cancer and melanomas are the most common form of cancer in the USA, ranking 5th in Charleston.
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The Dangers of Too Much Sun
UV and sun damage is cumulative. While a bad case of sunburn can increase your risk of skin cancer (5 instances throughout your life increases your risk by 80 percent), everyday exposure also causes significant damage. An hour or two under the sun might not seem to have any damaging effects on your skin. However, UV damage continuously accumulates until it changes the chemical makeup of your skin. UV can penetrate your skin, destroying the collagen underneath and visibly aging your skin. The sun is the leading cause of visible aging, and too much sun will do more than age your skin. Twenty percent of all Americans will be affected by one form of skin cancer in their lifetime, and that number is constantly growing.
Taking UV Exposure Seriously
Many sunscreen dispensers have been installed in popular places in Charleston. Residents and visitors can use the dispensers for free and are encouraged to do so. The project is a partnership between the local government (mainly through the Charleston Parks and Recreation Department) and private initiatives I Will Reflect and Impact Melanoma. Most of the dispensers are situated in popular parks, but the project is expected to expand its reach to include schools and beaches soon. The city is also advising residents to take the daily UV index into account before they leave the house and to apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Older stocks of sunscreen should be disposed of as sunscreen loses its efficacy past its expiration date. Residents are also advised to wear protective clothing, like hats and long-sleeved shirts, to reduce sun exposure, mainly when the sun is at its most intense between 10 am and 2 pm.
Additional Measures to Protect Yourself from the Sun
Harmful UV rays can get to you – even if you’re not outdoors. Your daily commute to work or morning light through your windows exposes you to significant amounts of UV rays that accumulate daily. A study in both the US and the UK discovered that UV exposure while driving was substantial in the development of melanomas and skin cancer. Americans develop their melanomas on the left side of their bodies while UK residents develop theirs on the left – the sides exposed to the sun when driving. Your car’s windshield comes equipped with a UV filtering film, but your car windows leave you vulnerable. Unless you plan on applying sunscreen every time you drive, tinting your car windows with a UV filtering film is the best option. You can also protect your home by tinting your windows and doors with a protective film.
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Charleston city is taking UV exposure and skin cancer seriously, and so should you. Take measures to protect yourself from the sun. Wear protective clothing, apply sunscreen, and keep dangerous UV out of your home.