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DHR advises sun-smart behavior
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ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Human Resources is encouraging all Georgians to take precautions to avoid sunburns, which can increase the risk of skin cancer.  

Using sunscreen that includes broad-spectrum ultraviolet-A (UVA) and Ultraviolet-B (UVB) protection is one of the most important things you can do to protect your skin.

The latest studies show that UVA not only increases UVB’s cancer-causing effects, but also may directly cause some skin cancers, including life-threatening melanomas. Although UVA is less likely than UVB to cause sunburn, UVA penetrates the skin more deeply, and is considered the chief culprit behind wrinkling, leathering and other aspects of "photo aging."

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays appears to be the most important environmental factor involved with developing skin cancer,” said Stuart Brown, M.D., director of DHR’s Division of Public Health.  “During the summer months, UV radiation tends to be greater. 

Taking a few extra minutes to plan how to reduce sun exposure before going outdoors is extremely important.”
Most forms of skin cancer can be cured. However, the best way to protect skin from the sun and to lower the risk of melanoma is to avoid being outdoors in sunlight too long, especially in the middle of the day when UV light is most intense.  UV rays are strongest and do the most damage between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and it’s best to seek shade or stay indoors during these hours of the day.  

In addition to sunscreen, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends covering up with clothing to protect exposed skin when outside. Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck. Grab sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible.

UV rays reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays will also reflect off any surface like water, cement, sand and snow. One needs to protect skin even when driving or riding in a car or truck. UV rays from artificial light sources like tanning beds, cause skin cancer and should be avoided.

Protecting children
from the sun
It only takes a few serious sunburns to increase your child’s risk of skin cancer later in life. Children don’t have to be at the pool, beach or on vacation to get too much sun. Their skin needs protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays whenever they’re outdoors. Parents need to help children play it safe in the sun and protect their own skin as well.

Summer is a great time to have fun outdoors; however, you need to be aware of the risks of getting too much sun exposure. Remember, when in the sun, wear sunscreen or sun block with at least 15 UVA and UVB protection, seek shade, cover up, get a hat and wear sunglasses.