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Week Four: Sun Protection Secrets

May is Melanoma Awareness Month, so we are going to feature weekly sets of sun protection secrets from Mona Gohara, M.D., FITNESS advisory board member and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. Get set to up your sun smarts and stay safe all summer!

Day 22: One person dies of melanoma each hour. The most common cancer amongst women in their 20s takes someone’s life every 60 minutes. However, if detected early, melanoma is curable. Do monthly self skin checks to seek out moles that appear new or different.

Day 23: Examine all your parts. Don't forget to look at the palms, soles, behind the ears and in the scalp-melanoma can occur on non-sun-exposed skin as well.

Day 24: One is the magic number. One blistering or five non-blistering sunburns in childhood double the lifetime risk of melanoma.

Day 25: Know your risks. Other risk factors include: those with a family history of melanoma, individuals with fair skin and light eyes, or multiple moles and tanning bed use.

Day 26: No one is immune. Everyone regardless of skin color is at risk for skin cancer. In fact, when skin cancer occurs in brown skinned individuals it is usually more aggressive and more likely to metastasize. The most common locations for melanoma in people of color are the palms, soles, under the finger/toenails and on mucous membranes (mouth or genital skin). Amongst those with darker complexions skin cancer is more likely to occur in areas of previous trauma, scars, burns or radiation-although the sun plays a role it is not the most likely culprit. Daily sun protection, yearly visits to the dermatologists and monthly self-skin checks are recommended for all ethnic groups.

Day 27: Melanoma and breast cancer are linked. Recent studies have shown that those with melanoma are more likely to get breast cancer and that those with breast cancer are at a higher risk for melanoma. This could be as a result of genetics or more diligent cancer surveillance in these populations. Other people at an increased risk for skin cancer are organ transplant recipients and those with lowered immune systems such as HIV+ patients. All of these groups should establish care with a dermatologist in order to ensure early detection should a problem arise.

Day 28: Beautiful skin is healthy skin.  Protecting your skin daily will ensure radiant skin for life. May is Skin Cancer Awareness month. Share with buzz with your family and friends; spread the word, save a life.

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