How to protect your skin from cancer

There's plenty of sun this summer. The vitamin D you receive from the sun's rays is good for health, but the increased risk of skin cancers is not.

Skin cancers can take years to develop. The most lethal type is melanoma and, unfortunately, it is on the increase.

You may be surprised to learn how common skin cancer is, which means you are at risk. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation:

• Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually.

• 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.
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Part of the problem is that many of us don't become attentive to protecting our skin until later in life. But the "seeds" of skin cancer may have been planted many years before.

For example, this can happen when a person is a child or teen and receives a bad sunburn at the beach. That’s why protecting your skin (and your children if you are a parent) has to be a daily and lifetime practice.

Arizona is the number one state in the U.S. for skin cancer and number two in the world, according to the Arizona Department of Public Health. That means skin cancer prevention is a top priority for those who live there.

Skin cancer expert Dr. Mark Gimbel, from Banner M.D. Anderson Cancer Center near Phoenix, shared tips on how people can lower their risk in a recent interview. He emphasized the importance of early detection and protection from sun damage before it occurs.

Gimbel also suggested wearing loose-fitting clothing and always carrying a sunscreen with an SPF rating of 30 or above for those unexpected sunny days.