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Skin Cancer Prevention
Written By : Caterina Christakos 
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Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, with over a million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Because it's so common and so rarely fatal, it's often thought of as a less serious form of cancer, particularly among younger, lower-risk age groups. But this is a mistake, as this type of cancer can be quite serious. Malignant melanoma, the least common of the three major forms of skin cancer, is fatal in almost 25% of cases. Even the more common but less dangerous carcinomas can lead to serious health complications, in addition to permanent scarring and untold amounts of stress.

That's why it's never too early to begin thinking amount prevention. After all, when it comes to any form of cancer that is partially caused by lifestyle and habits, things we do in our childhood, 20s, 30s, and 40s do have a bearing on our cancer likelihood later on. And while there is a genetic element to this type of cancer, it is also closely tied to behaviors. In short, what you do today has a bearing on whether or not you will develop skin cancer later in life.

And that's not to mention that young people are not immune to skin cancer, which is all the more reason why we must be careful during all stages of life. So, what can we do to prevent skin cancer?

1. No smoking: First of all, this should go without saying, but don't smoke. Numerous studies have shown that smoking tobacco can double one's risk of contracting skin cancer. That's pretty significant. Of course, smoking tobacco can also cause various more life-threatening forms of cancer, so let's just rule tobacco out entirely, not only for our looks, but also for our general well-being.

2. Minimize sun exposure: Many cases of skin cancer can be traced to DNA damage caused by direct exposure to UVA or UVB rays from the sun. Experts advise minimizing your exposure to the sun during the peak hours between 10 AM and 4 PM-and that goes for all seasons, as UV rays can be just as strong during the cooler months.

Also, it's essential to use sunscreen every time you're going to be in the sun for more than a few minutes. To be safe, just keep some sunscreen in your purse or your car, and don't hesitate to apply it any time. It's not guaranteed to prevent skin cancer, but it definitely can't hurt.

3. Consult your doctor: While nobody wants to be viewed as a hypochondriac, it's a good idea to ask your doctor about anything relating to your skin that seems fishy. There is a high association between moles and skin cancer, so if you have any moles that are irritated, volatile, itchy, or painful, have them checked out. Also, if you have any cuts, burns, or scabs that never seem to heal, first of all stop messing around with them. Secondly, have a doctor look at them. Again, it can't hurt. Every time you have a check up, remember to ask your doctor about strange skin situations.

Find out more about: cancer
  More from Caterina Christakos
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