Tanning at a beach without sunscreen increases your risk of developing skin cancer, a B.C. doctor warns. (Pixabay photo)

‘It’s not always a big, ugly mole’: B.C. doctor urges sunscreen, shade to prevent skin cancer

Almost 40% of adults don’t use sunscreen, according to Statistics Canada, increasing risks of melanoma

With summer in full swing, British Columbians are quick to get outside and bask in warm sun rays that for just a short few months aren’t met with wet conditions.

But a majority of sun bathers, beach goers and nature enthusiasts are forgetting one integral step before heading outside: sunscreen. In fact, 60 per cent of adults in North America surveyed by Statistics Canada said that they don’t use sunscreen. It’s no surprise, then, that 37 per cent reported getting at least one sunburn during the summer.

A history of severe sunburns increase the chances for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. In 2017, 7,200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma while 1,250 died.

So why don’t people take sun protection seriously, if they know the risks can be problematic if not deadly?

Dr. Beth Donaldson with Copeman Healthcare Centre said a strong possibility is due to the misguided myth that if someone doesn’t burn then they don’t need to protect themselves from ultraviolet (UV) rays.

“That’s so far from the truth. A burn is definitely worse, but any kind of exposure can definitely increase your risk of skin cancer,” she told Black Press Media.

ALSO READ: Stay safe in the sun this summer

“The most obvious thing to do is wear a long sleeve, wear a hat and stay in the shade.”

People are constantly being exposed to UV rays or reflective sun, Donaldson said, whether while walking to work, or for lunch or while driving. That means that sunscreen is a must – and it’s not a product people should be stingy with.

“You have to use a lot, like a shot glass worth for your whole body, if you’re going to be at a pool with a bathing suit on,” Donaldson said. “And you have to reapply it every two hours even if you have not been swimming or sweating, you have to be on it.”

Although some skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma or other non-melanoma cancers can be “easily fixable” by minor surgeries or through a doctor using liquid nitrogen, Donaldson said that sometimes these can go missed and quickly turn serious.

ALSO READ: How breast cancer brought four B.C. women together

“Then the problem with melanoma, is it’s really hard to detect,” she said. “It’s not always a big, ugly mole it can sometimes just be very blended and unfortunate and that can kill you.”

Anecdotally, Donaldson suspects its those aged 20 to 25 whose parents may not have made sun protection a priority when they were younger and are now not worrying about the risk of sun damage as young adults.

“But if there’s something you can prevent by simply putting on even an SPF 30, it’s better than nothing,” she said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Holiday lights displayed in Summerland neighbourhood

Trout Creek neighbourhood to hold fourth annual lights contest

Farm buildings drive value of Sumnmerland’s November building permits

Permits issued so far this year total $45,378,800

Santa Parade lights up the streets of Penticton

People lined Main Street through the rain and chill in the air.

Summerland college operated from 1906 to 1915

Ritchie Hall and Morton Hall were constructed for Okanagan Baptist College

South Okanagan volunteer dental clinic donates rotten teeth to good cause

H.E.C.K. recently gifted 47 rotten teeth to a search and rescue group in the area

Video: Magicians and Bubble Wonders highlight Penticton Shriners Variety Show

The annual fundraiser filled the Cleland Community Theatre on Sunday.

Province sues over sailing incident that killed teen with disabilities

Gabriel Pollard, 16, died from injuries after marine lift failed

First Nations want Big Bar landslide cleared ASAP to allow fish passage

Leadership calling for urgent action and resources to remove obstruction on the Fraser

Assessed value of Lower Mainland homes expected to decrease in 2020

Other areas of province may see modest increases over last year’s values

Two Okanagan residents convicted and fined for hunting out of season

Both residents were convicted in a Kelowna provincial court

Book examines history of B.C. wine industry

Author Luke Whittall has studied the growth of the industry from the mid-19th century to today

Chilliwack family’s therapy dog injured in hit and run

Miniature pit bull Fifty’s owner is a single mother facing close to $10,000 in vet bills

Most Read