People can reduce their chances of getting skin cancer by remembering that damage from the sun is cumulative and taking measures to limit exposure, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Avoiding sunburn and tanning beds helps to decrease the risk.
Sun exposure should be limited between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the foundation advises. The sun's rays are at their strongest during these hours, increasing the risk of sunburn. Just one sunburn increases the chance of melanoma, and five or more sunburns doubles the risk.
Tanning beds are no safer than the sun, the foundation reports. No tan is safe, and tanning beds often emit more harmful UV rays than the sun — some newer lamps emit up to 12 times more. Tanning bed users are up to three times more likely to develop potentially deadly melanoma and up to 2.5 times more likely to develop other types of skin cancer.
Learning to apply sunscreen effectively can also reduce the chances of getting skin cancer, the foundation states. The rule of thumb is to apply two tablespoons of SPF 15 broad-spectrum sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside, reapplying every two hours or after swimming or sweating. Sunscreen should be used year-round, in snowy conditions and on cloudy days as well.