10 Skin Cancer Myths

HealthGal Health Guide
  • There are urban legends and myths surrounding pretty much every medical condition you can think of.  When it comes to skin cancer, the myths tend to continually evolve, and trying to dispel these myths can be quite challenging.  Here's a list of 10 myths that continually re-surface.


    I can only get skin cancer if it "runs in my family."

    Anyone can get skin cancer.  If you expose your unprotected skin to the sun's rays you are at risk.  If you sustain at least one serious burn in your lifetime, the risk increases.


    I only need to apply sun block once in the morning for a full day's protection.

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    All sun blocks need to be re-applied more than once daily and the frequency will depend on its SPF and whether or not you get wet or sweat, and how long you plan to be in the sun.  Read the directions carefully to see the recommended frequency of application.  Also make sure to use a minimum of a "one shot whiskey glass" for your face and body.


    I can't get skin cancer in the winter when it's cold.

    Actually the snow is a perfect reflective surface that heightens your exposure to the skin-cancer causing rays of the sun.  Any sunny day, winter, spring summer or fall is a day that requires sun protection.


    I have a deep olive skin tone, so I have natural sun protection built in.

    Even African-Americans need to use sun protection i.e. sun block, a hat, and clothing in order to avoid the risk of skin cancer.


    If you tan rather than burn you can't get skin cancer.

    Skin that turns a deeper color is a sign that sun damage has occurred.  Only self tanners in cream, spray or liquid form are a safe way to tan.


    I can't get burnt on a cloudy day.

    The mistake many people make is to lay out on a cloudy summer day and assume that it is safe.  The clouds or a gray sky allow the burning rays of the sun to penetrate.


    Doctors have recently recommended that we get more vitamin D and the best way to get that vitamin is through sun exposure.

    Doctors continue to discuss whether or not any amount of sun exposure (without the use of sun block), even limited (10 minutes a couple of times a week), is a safe way in addition to supplementation, to target better levels of vitamin D.  Most doctors would rather that people supplement with vitamin D and drink fortified milk and orange juice instead of exposing themselves to the rays of the sun without sun block.  Most people will err on the side of more rather than less sun exposure, which will put them at higher risk of skin cancer.


    I can't get burnt in a car or through a window.

    On the contrary, any window can expose you to the burning rays of the sun and increase your skin cancer risk.


    Since skin cancer "shows up" as a skin discoloration or as a change in a freckle, you'll have plenty of warning and be able to treat it.

    Treatment of certain skin cancers can involve surgery, chemotherapy and a melanoma, even tiny, can be a deadly skin cancer even when caught early.


  • Using a cosmetic that has SPF is sufficient protection.

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    Any exposed part of your body can get skin cancer.  That includes your scalp, lips, hands, and feet.  Yes, a cosmetic with SPF can help to protect your face, but you also need UVA/UVB protection which is typically only found in cosmetics that include a specific barrier ingredient.  You would still need to re-apply that cosmetic completely over your face with a certain frequency to maintain the effective sun protection barrier.  A better recommendation is to use a sun block and re-apply it per the directions.  Adding the use of a mineral face powder with sun block can be a great way to reduce shine and maintain face skin protection during the daylight hours, in addition to head to toe use of a skin block.




Published On: January 11, 2010