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Sun Safety

The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays cause skin damage that can lead to skin cancer. Using tanning beds can also cause skin cancer.

Even if you never burn, a tan is a telltale sign that you're causing permanent damage to your skin. The darkening of your skin is actually your skin's attempt to protect itself from further exposure.

Sun damage builds up over time. Sun safety for kids is especially important. Many cases of serious skin cancer begin with childhood sunburns. 

UV protection

Protecting yourself from UV light is always important. This includes:

  • avoiding overexposure year-round, even on cloudy days or in the winter
  • covering up outdoors with clothing, a hat and sunglasses
  • seeking shade on bright days
  • limiting the amount of time you spend in direct sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
  • using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30

Skin cancers can look like moles, scaly patches or lumps on the skin. Pay extra attention to moles or spots that are lopsided, large, raised or more than one colour. If you're not sure, it's always best to have your doctor check it out.

Resources

There are additional recommendations and resources for different ages and stages of life.


Skin cancer is strongly linked to sun exposure during infancy and childhood. Protecting your baby from too much sun – especially sunburns – will greatly reduce their lifetime risk of skin cancer. 


Sunscreen is not usually the best way to protect your infant from the sun because it can irritate the eyes. Try to use clothing, hats, and shade instead.


Ways to protect your infant's skin include:

  • minimizing outdoor activity between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in summer
  • dressing your infant in loose-fitting clothes that cover the skin
  • covering your infant's head in a hat that conceals the neck and ears
  • seeking or create shade. You can get a sunburn even on a cloudy day
  • if you must use sunscreen, choosing one with a high SPF (30 to 60 SPF)
  • giving breastfed infants a Vitamin D supplement every day

 
 

Skin cancer is strongly linked to sun exposure during infancy and childhood. Protecting your child from too much sun – especially sunburns – will greatly reduce their lifetime risk of skin cancer. 


Ways to protect your child's skin include:

  • minimizing outdoor activity between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in summer
  • dressing your child in loose-fitting clothes that cover the skin
  • covering your child's head in a hat that conceals the neck and ears
  • seeking or creating shade. You can get a sunburn even on a cloudy day
  • choosing a sunscreen with a high SPF (30 to 60 SPF)

Skin cancer is the second most common cancer in young people. Melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer.


Research shows that when young people are exposed to UV rays at high intensity or for long periods, they develop a higher risk for basal cell cancer and melanoma than adults exposed to the same UV levels. This is why the World Health Organization recommends that no one under the age of 18 use a tanning bed.


Resources

  • Suntips.caeducates about the risks of UV exposure and helps young people develop healthy lifelong behaviours that reduce their risk of skin cancer.
 

People who work outdoors are regularly exposed to the sun for long periods of time. Often, exposure happens when the sun's UV rays are the strongest - between 12 noon and 2 p.m. This increases the risk for skin cancer.


The good news is that skin cancer is largely preventable. Here are ways you can protect yourself:

  • try to limit the amount of time you work outdoors in the direct sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • seek shade from buildings, tree canopies, etc., especially during lunch and coffee breaks
  • wear a wide-brimmed hat (more than 8 cm or 3 inches)
  • attach a back flap to a construction helmet to cover the back of the neck and a visor for the front of the face
  • wear loose, comfortable clothing that covers as much of the body as possible. Fabrics that do not let light through work best
  • apply an SPF 30 or higher broad spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB) sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin before you go outside. Reapply at midday or more often if you are perspiring heavily
  • apply a broad spectrum SPF 30 lip balm

Vitamin D

The sun is a major source of vitamin D, which is needed for good health and building healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also helps your muscles, nerves and immune system to work properly. However, overexposure to the sun's rays damages the skin and can cause skin cancer.

It's always safest to limit your sun exposure. You can meet your daily requirements for Vitamin D through your diet or through supplements.

Canada's Food Guide recommends drinking 500 ml of milk or fortified soy beverage daily. Only small amounts of vitamin D come from food like oily fish (salmon, sardines) or egg yolks.

If you're not getting enough vitamin D through your diet, you should take a supplement. There are specific recommendations for different age groups: 

Infants

Vitamin D is important to infant development. Breastfeeding is the recommended method for feeding infants because it provides many important nutrients and immune factors. However, breast milk alone does meet your baby's requirements for vitamin D. Health Canada recommends that all breastfed infants receive a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU every day from birth until 12 months. 

Adults

  • If you're under 50 and you do not drink 500 ml of milk or fortified soy drink daily – take a daily 400 IU vitamin D supplement;
  • If you are at risk or living with osteoporosis, follow Osteoporosis Canada's recommendations for vitamin D intake (800-2000 IU per day), unless under the supervision of a health care provider; 
  • If you are 50+, take a daily 400 IU supplement (pill) of vitamin D and follow Canada's Food Guide recommendations of 500 ml of milk or fortified soy beverage daily.
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SOURCE: Sun Safety ( )
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