The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures reaching into the upper 90s on Sunday, the first day of summer, and the longest day of the year. Solar experts say the sun will shine for nearly 15 hours.
But as poolside pleasures beckon, and yard work waits to be done the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is cautioning residents to prepare properly for fun in the sun.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection Kansas malignant melanoma rates increased from 16.3 cases per 100,000 people in 2000 to 23.4 cases per 100,000 people in 2011. More than 700 cases of malignant melanoma were diagnosed among Kansans in 2011.
Skin cancer is not only the most common form of cancer in the U.S., it is the most deadly. More than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers are caused by ultraviolet radiation exposure. Maintaining an application of sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least SPF 15 with both UVA and UVB protection is always recommended.
“If you’ve been out there, and have been in the water or been sweating, you need to reapply,” said Harvey County Health Department director Lynnette Redington. “Even if it says it is waterproof, if you’ve been out for more than two hours, just put it on again.”
Redington said taking a small amount of sunscreen with you wherever you go is the best bet. Having sunscreen available can often prevent burns when they are least expected, such as cloudy days when UV rays can be just as strong if not stronger.
Sometimes even sunscreen just isn’t enough.
“Find shade outside, especially in the middle of the day when the sun is most intense, and wear a hat or other clothing that covers your skin,” cautioned Secretary Susan Mosier, MD, MBA.
While obtaining a summer bronze can be enticing, experts caution of the use of indoor tanning beds.
“Ultraviolet rays, whether directly from the sun or from a tanning bed, cause DNA damage which greatly increases cancer risk,” said Dr. Gary Doolittle, medical oncologist and chair of the Kansas Cancer Partnership in a KDHE press release.
There are a number of quality non-UV options now available. Chrystal McKinney, owner of Antidote Salon + Spa in Newton, said the stigma surrounding tanning beds led her spa to opt for the sole option of spray tans as a safer alternative.
“We try our very best to get something with the least amount of toxins and still do the job,” McKinney said.
Cheap spray tans of yesteryear often left recipients looking, for lack of a better word, orange, but McKinney said with advancements in spray-tan technology coupled with safety, the choice was also a market decision.
“You don’t have to worry about that anymore,” she said. “People can choose whatever is conducive to their skin color. There are a number of different colors that can be combined to match anyone.”