Your skin will thank you for adopting these strategies. / SelectStock/Getty Images
Unprotected sun exposure is one of the most preventable risk factors for skin cancer, the most common of all cancers in the U.S. More than 2 million new cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, as will 76,000 of the most serious cases, melanoma.
To protect your skin, follow these strategies:
In choosing a product, look for these three benefits: broad-spectrum (or "UVA/UVB protection"), SPF 30 (or higher) and water resistance. Sunscreen companies are making label changes now to comply with new FDA requirements that will be enforced by December 2013. Claims of reducing skin-cancer risk and early signs of aging will be allowed only on broad-spectrum sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or higher. And new water-resistance labeling will indicate whether the sunscreen is effective for 40 or 80 minutes — "waterproof," "sweatproof" and "sunblock" will be gone from labels.
Layer on protection.
Slip on a shirt (preferably made of tightly woven fabric) and even long pants when you’re in the sun; wear a wide-brimmed hat (to shade face, ears and neck), and wear sunglasses (with 99% to 100% UV absorption).
Do regular self-exams.
Most skin cancers are easily treated when found early, but a new survey by the American Academy of Dermatology found that about half of respondents don’t know how to spot it. You’re looking for moles or skin lesions that are asymmetrical, irregularly shaped, varying in color or ones that change in size, color and shape.
New research may add a certain type of skin cancer to this habit’s list. Scientists found smoking was associated with a 52% increased risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a type of non-melanoma skin cancer.