Jun 4, 2010

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

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The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

There has been some good news lately about skin cancer. Dr. Gordon Jung and colleagues at the University of Alberta published a study in the April issue of the British Journal of Dermalology. They looked at Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers in Alberta from 1988 through 2007. In women they found these skin cancers increased until 2000 and then the rates leveled off. They found in men the cancer rates leveled off in 2001 and then actually went down. The researchers are hoping that the decrease is due to people listening to all the public health messages about reducing sun exposure.

Skin cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in Canada, and the fastest growing cancer in the world. The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 75,500 people will be diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer in 2010. Risk factors for developing non-melanoma skin cancer include: exposure to the sun, light-coloured skin, eyes and hair, and a previous history of skin cancer.

The Canadian Dermatology Association recommends:

  • Plan outdoor activities before 11 a.m. and after 4 p.m. The sun's rays are at their strongest between these hours. It's easy to remember - during these hours your shadow is shorter than you are.

  • GOLFERS: Choose a high SPF product 30 60 that offers greater protection as you may be out for more than four hours. Use a golf umbrella or golf cart for personal shade. If possible, wait for play in shaded, treed areas.

  • Cover your arms and legs. Covering your skin will protect it from the sun. Choose clothing that is: loose fitting; tightly woven; and lightweight.

  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat (3 inches or 7.5 cm). Most skin cancers occur on the face and neck. This area needs extra protection. So a hat with a wide brim that covers your head, face, ears and neck is needed. Hats without a wide brim, like baseball caps, do not give you enough protection.

  • Use a sunscreen with SPF (Sun Protection Factor) SPF 30 or higher. Look for "broad spectrum" on the label. This means that the sunscreen offers protection against two types of ultraviolet rays, UVA and UVB. Dont forget to use SPF 30, broad spectrum lip balm as well.

  • Apply sunscreen generously, 20 minutes before outdoor activities. Reapply often - at least every 2 hours (and after swimming or exercise that makes you perspire). No sunscreen can absorb all of the sun's rays. Use sunscreen along with shade, clothing and hats - not instead of them. Use sunscreen as a backup in your sun protection plan.

We have been hearing these sun protection warnings for years. The good news is that if the Alberta study is right, we are starting to listen. Keep up the good work.

For More Information visit:

The Canadian Cancer Society: www.cancer.caThe Canadian Dermatology Association

As always if you have any questions or concerns about these or other products, ask your pharmacist.


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