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Sun Safety Campaign Raises Skin Cancer Awareness

Skin cancer is now the most common form of cancer in the U.S. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during the course of their lifetime, which makes smart sun protection and proper skin care more important than ever.

Not all sunscreens are created equal. EWG's new Sun Safety campaign gives guidelines on choosing the right protection.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

With more than 2 million Americans diagnosed annually with skin cancer, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), along with innovative sun protection companies, have launched a public education campaign to increase awareness about the alarming rise of melanoma, the worrisome popularity of tanning beds, and the large number of ineffective sunscreens—many containing potentially harmful chemicals.

EWG is hoping that the new campaign can make proper sun safety as essential as seat belts in the minds of the public.

"Many of us spend hours outside and don't take simple steps to protect ourselves from the sun's harmful rays," said Ken Cook, president of EWG. "The good news is skin cancer is often preventable, and if we take some rather simple steps, we can bend the skin cancer curve away from rising rates."

Utilizing social media and tech-savvy initiatives, the Sun Safety campaign hopes to send a wake-up call to Americans—young people in particular—with clear, compelling strategies to reduce the risks of skin damage and cancer related to sun exposure and tanning beds.

According to EWG, the campaign is harnessing advanced imaging technology developed by Canfield Imaging Systems, the leading developer of photographic imaging solutions for the medical and skin care industries, to visualize sun damage and encourage people to form sun-safe habits. The campaign plans to station the Canfield camera at locations around the country so people can see for themselves the damage the sun has already caused to their skins and learn how they can mitigate further harm.

Based on decades of scientific research, the campaign concludes that the best defenses against harmful ultraviolet radiation are protective clothing, shade, timing and safer and more effective sunscreens. Below is a quick summary of sun protection tips from EWG, for more information—including how to pick a good sunscreen—check out the campaign's website:   

  • Not All Sunscreens Are Equal: Choose the safest, most effective sunblock products by consulting EWG's online guide to sunscreens.
  • Regular Skin Checks: for new moles that are tender or growing. Ask your primary care doctor how often you should see a dermatologist.
  • Don't Get Burned: Red, sore, blistered or peeling skin means far too much sun—and raises your skin cancer risk.
  • Wear Clothes: Shirts, hats, shorts and pants provide the best protection from UV rays—and they don't coat your skin with goop.
  • Find Shade—or Make It: Picnic under a tree, read beneath an umbrella, take a canopy to the beach. Keep infants in the shade—they lack the tanning pigments known as melanin to protect their skin.
  • Plan Around the Sun: Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon, when the sun is lower. UV radiation peaks at midday.
  • Sunglasses Aren't Just a Fashion Accessory: Good shades protect your eyes from UV radiation that causes cataracts.

The Sun Safety campagin was launched jointly with leading dermatologists and 16 sunscreen makers, including: EWG, All Terrain, Aubrey, Ava Anderson Non Toxic, Babo Botanicals, Babytime! by Episencial, Badger, Beauty Counter, California Baby, Elemental Herbs, Goddess Garden Organics, Juice Beauty, Marie Veronique Organics, MD Solar Sciences, MyChelle Dermaceuticals, Raw Elements, Thinkbaby/ Thinksport and True Natural.

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