Surprising Habits That Heighten Your Risk Of Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is more prevalent than breast, prostate, lung or colon cancer. In fact, over 3 million people are diagnosed with nonmelanoma skin cancer every year. Almost half of Americans who live to be 65 will develop basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma at one point in their lifetime—a statistic that is explosive considering that more and more people are living past that age. If you think, “I take precautions to prevent skin cancer” and “I take good care of my skin,” you have to also think, when you see those numbers, that at least some skin cancer patients also believed that they took good care of their skin. To really lower your risk of skin cancer, you have to know more than the baseline strategy of staying out of the sun between noon and 3 pm. Here are 15 common habits that increase your risk of skin cancer.
Skipping your dermatology appointment
Consider your dermatology appointment as important as your gynecology one and your regular physical exam. Your dermatologist will notice tiny changes in your moles, freckles, and overall complexion and can catch a problem before it becomes cancerous.
Smoking can increase the occurrence and severity of precancerous lesions. Studies have found that regular smoking can boost your risk of the most common type of skin cancer—called squamous cell carcinoma—by 52 percent.
Skimping on produce
Fruits and vegetables aren’t just important for keeping your figure—they’re a vital part of keeping your skin healthy. Produce contains antioxidants that fight free radicals that cause skin cancer.
Eating too much sugar
Too much sugar in your diet can interfere with your skin’s ability to carry out several regular processes, like shedding old cells, producing protective oil and properly absorbing products like sunscreen.
Forgetting to reapply sunscreen
Too many people lather up at the beginning of the day, and that’s it. No matter how strong your sunscreen is, you need to reapply if you’re going to be outdoors from sun up to sun down.
Ignoring sunscreen expiration dates
Don’t load up on a bulk box of sunscreen, hoping it will last you a lifetime. Sunscreen isn’t supposed to last a lifetime, and when it expires, it loses its protective qualities.
Wearing retinol in the daytime
Retinol, a product used to fight wrinkles and other signs of aging, can make the sun’s effects even stronger on your skin. Only apply it to your skin at night time before going to bed.
Forgetting to put sunscreen here
Some of the most commonly forgotten places to apply protection are the ears, armpits, and feet. But these areas are just as susceptible to skin cancer as any other. In fact, some people have had entire ears removed because of skin cancer.
Your skin’s upper layers are designed to protect you against lots of things, including sunlight. Over exfoliating can remove this protective layer.
Failure to wear a hat
Hats aren’t only a fashion statement (a very cute fashion statement!) Your head is the part of your body closest to the sun, so it should get plenty of attention. Your head is also covered in hair, so you probably don’t put sunscreen on it; you need another form of protection.
Going sleeveless and pantless
It’s tough to get enough sunscreen on your arms and legs—they are large areas! So, to cover your bases, wear light pants and long sleeves in the summer. Linen is a great, airy material and it will protect your appendages from the sun.
Assuming your vitamin D is low
A lot of people just assume they are low on vitamin D, so they increase their time in the sun. But you can’t be the judge of that; let a doctor run blood tests on you to confirm that your levels of vitamin D are low. If they aren’t, why run the risk of spending more time outdoors?
Regular Brazilian blowouts
The hair smoothing products used in Brazilian blowouts often contain formaldehyde, which is a cancer-causing chemical.
Not researching your products
The Organic Consumers Association found that over 40 percent of products with the label “natural” on them contain the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane. This ingredient isn’t always stated on the product, but it is found inside of PEG, Polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene and most chemicals ending in “eth” and “oxynol.”
UV Nail lamps
The UV nail lamps held over your hands during manicures have–you guessed it–UV! It’s difficult to wear sunscreen on your hands at the salon since the manicurist dunks them in buckets of water and product. Avoid this part of the manicure.