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July is UV awarness month

The sun is necessary for life. It gives us the light and heat we need to survive. However, too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can lead to skin cancer — especially melanoma, the deadliest form that claims the life of one person every 50 minutes.

Some may not be aware of this but nationwide, July is UV (ultraviolet light) Awareness/Safety Month. UV radiation, a known carcinogen, can have a number of harmful effects on the skin. There are two types of UV radiation: UVA and UVB. Both have been linked to skin cancer and a weakening of the immune system. They also contribute to premature aging of the skin, ocular melanoma and cataracts.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology has provided helpful tips for everyone who plans to enjoy fun in the sun this summer:

  • The suns rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Try to avoid being in the sun during these hours.
  • When out in the sun use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Wear lip protection as well, also with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen every hour or two, especially after swimming, sweating or partaking in any outdoor activity. Be extra careful when you are near water, snow, cement or sand, as these are reflective surfaces and can intensify your exposure.
  • Cover skin with long sleeves and hats.
  • Keep an eye on your skin. The American Cancer Society provides tips on what to look for in skin changes that may lead to melanoma, a form of skin cancer.
  • When choosing sunglasses, select a pair of shades that block UV rays. Effective sunglasses should provide 97 percent to 100 percent UV protection.
  • Don’t be fooled on cloudy days and even haze. UV rays can pass through thin clouds and haze meaning you can get UV damage anytime during the year.
  • Wear protective eyewear during the peak hours when the suns rays are the strongest.
  • Children also need protective eye wear as well. Kids are at risk just like adults and should also stay out of the sun during peak hours.

Every day, the National Weather Service calculates the predicted UV index. You can find this information on the Weather Channels website. If the level of solar UV radiation is predicted to be unusually high, and consequently the risk of overexposure is greater than normal, the forecast includes UV alerts.

Don’t be fooled — 80 percent of the sun’s rays can penetrate through clouds, so be careful on foggy or overcast days.

Here’s the good news: Overexposure to the sun, and skin cancer, are preventable so pass along this helpful information to your family, friends and loved ones.

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