Be SunSmart Everywhere!
29 November 2018 – The holidays are around the corner, and CANSA reminds the public to take care and be SunSmart everywhere. Sunburn can occur within fifteen minutes, and the damage caused is permanent, irreversible and adds up with each exposure to the sun.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, in part due to high levels of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which is a major cause of skin cancer. UV radiation is just as dangerous for outdoor labourers, sports people, on the playground or when driving to work, as it is when at the beach or pool. Rays can also reflect off surfaces and cause sunburn when it is overcast. Read more about skin cancer, tips to lower cancer risk and screening on the CANSA website.
Although people with blonde / red head hair with light skin, freckles and green or blue eyes are more at risk for sunburn and skin damage than those with a darker skin, people with a darker skin tone should also take precaution to protect themselves from UV rays.
People living with the genetic condition Albinism, causing them to lack skin pigments and therefore have extremely pale skin, need to take extra special care when outdoors, as they are at greater risk of developing skin cancer, and it’s important that it be detected early when it can be removed by surgery. They need to wear protective clothing and sunglasses (rated at UV400) to protect their sensitive eyes. It’s also important that they seek employment in a shaded environment and go for regular examinations to monitor for skin cancer. Sunscreen is available for people living with Albinism through prescription from the Department of Dermatology at public hospitals.
People who think that indoor tanning or sunbeds are a safer option are mistaken. There is no such thing as a healthy tan, which in fact indicates skin damage. First use of sunbeds before age 35, increases the risk of developing melanoma by 59%. In 2009 sunbeds and tanning booths were officially classified as cancer causing agents by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
Julie George, melanoma Survivor states: “I think in the back of my mind I knew sunbeds were dangerous, but I never knew just how dangerous. I was completely ignorant of the nature of melanoma too. I wish I could have had a glimpse into the future back then, a real understanding of the dangers. I still find people today who don’t take it seriously. I think as I had, they have the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mind set. I am hoping my story will convince people that this is a very real, life threatening risk.”
How CANSA Helps
Make an appointment at local CANSA Care Centres for a FotoFinder screening which offers dermoscopic skin cancer screening and mole mapping and make use of our Spot the Spot checklist to assist with monthly self-examinations.