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    Protecting your skin from sun damage

    6:59 AM, Jul 13, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Keeping your skin healthy and cancer free is the goal of health leaders around the US and it's especially talked about during the summer months when people spend more time outside and those sun rays are pouring down.

    "Definitely don't think that the sun is something harmless," says Dr. Catherine Pakasakelariou, dermatologist at UAMS . "It is good for us, we do produce Vitamin D from it but know that it is a double edge sword, you definitely have to be on the safe side."

    Basal cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma are the most common forms of skin cancer and are collectively referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers.

    While not the most common, melanoma is the most deadly form of skin cancer and the rates of melanoma have been increasing for at least the last 30 years.

    Melanoma is the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old. The risk is rising faster in women 15-29 years old, possibly due to indoor tanning use.

    According to statistics, an American dies of melanoma almost every hour. If recognized and treated early, there is a 98% survival rate, but if it is not, the cancer can advance and spread to other parts of the body,  the survival rate decreases to 16-62%.

    Melanoma can strike anyone but there is an increased risk in people who have red or blonde hair, blue or green eyes, have more than 50 moles, have relatives with melanoma, and/or a previous diagnosis of melanoma or nonmelanoma skin cancer.

    Dr. Pakasakelariou recommends that if you are going to be out in the sun for any length of time, you should consider taking the following precautions:

    -Wear sunscreen daily with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply frequently throughout the day (every 2 hours). At least 2 oz or one "shot glass" of sunscreen is required to cover all exposed skin.

    -Wear protective clothing including long sleeves, pants, and wide brimmed hats.

    -Seek shade as often as possible, especially between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

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