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How can you prevent skin cancer?

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Quick Answer

To prevent skin cancer, avoid the sun when it is at its strongest; wear protective clothing; apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or more; and avoid tanning beds. UV rays cause over 90 percent of skin cancer cases in the United States, notes the Skin Cancer Foundation.

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Full Answer

One sunburn can increase a person's chance of developing melanoma, states the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is best to seek shade in the mid-morning to early afternoon, since the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., adds the American Academy of Dermatology.

A broad-spectrum sunscreen offers protection against ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays and should be reapplied every two hours even on cloudy days. The high-pressure lamps used in tanning beds emit doses of UV rays as much as 12 times that of the sun, explains the Skin Cancer Foundation. The skin tries to prevent further damage by producing darker pigment.

Ultraviolet rays damage the DNA of skin cells, according to the American Cancer Society. Although most UV rays come from sunlight, some come from man-made sources such as tanning beds. The damage is cumulative, and much of it may come from exposure that happened years earlier. Some people whose skin is damaged by sunlight have cells that do not repair their damaged DNA as well as others.

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