Tanning at a beach without sunscreen increases your risk of developing skin cancer, a B.C. doctor warns. (Pixabay photo)

‘It’s not always a big, ugly mole’: B.C. doctor urges sunscreen, shade to prevent skin cancer

Almost 40% of adults don’t use sunscreen, according to Statistics Canada, increasing risks of melanoma

With summer in full swing, British Columbians are quick to get outside and bask in warm sun rays that for just a short few months aren’t met with wet conditions.

But a majority of sun bathers, beach goers and nature enthusiasts are forgetting one integral step before heading outside: sunscreen. In fact, 60 per cent of adults in North America surveyed by Statistics Canada said that they don’t use sunscreen. It’s no surprise, then, that 37 per cent reported getting at least one sunburn during the summer.

A history of severe sunburns increase the chances for melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. In 2017, 7,200 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma while 1,250 died.

So why don’t people take sun protection seriously, if they know the risks can be problematic if not deadly?

Dr. Beth Donaldson with Copeman Healthcare Centre said a strong possibility is due to the misguided myth that if someone doesn’t burn then they don’t need to protect themselves from ultraviolet (UV) rays.

“That’s so far from the truth. A burn is definitely worse, but any kind of exposure can definitely increase your risk of skin cancer,” she told Black Press Media.

ALSO READ: Stay safe in the sun this summer

“The most obvious thing to do is wear a long sleeve, wear a hat and stay in the shade.”

People are constantly being exposed to UV rays or reflective sun, Donaldson said, whether while walking to work, or for lunch or while driving. That means that sunscreen is a must – and it’s not a product people should be stingy with.

“You have to use a lot, like a shot glass worth for your whole body, if you’re going to be at a pool with a bathing suit on,” Donaldson said. “And you have to reapply it every two hours even if you have not been swimming or sweating, you have to be on it.”

Although some skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma or other non-melanoma cancers can be “easily fixable” by minor surgeries or through a doctor using liquid nitrogen, Donaldson said that sometimes these can go missed and quickly turn serious.

ALSO READ: How breast cancer brought four B.C. women together

“Then the problem with melanoma, is it’s really hard to detect,” she said. “It’s not always a big, ugly mole it can sometimes just be very blended and unfortunate and that can kill you.”

Anecdotally, Donaldson suspects its those aged 20 to 25 whose parents may not have made sun protection a priority when they were younger and are now not worrying about the risk of sun damage as young adults.

“But if there’s something you can prevent by simply putting on even an SPF 30, it’s better than nothing,” she said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Don’t feed the bears, BCCOS warns, after incidents in Cowichan

People have been spotted trying to feed bear near Youbou

Elizabeth May endorses Furstenau in BC Greens race

Former federal party leader backs Cowichan Valley MLA

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to Saltair

Only 40 tickets available so get them soon if you’re interested

Langford teens reunited with family after rescue near Chemainus

Friends spent night in missing truck, spotted by RCMP helicopter

Horrifying video shows near head-on collision on Trans Canada

The video was captured on dash cam along Highway 1

UPDATE: Vancouver Island skydiving community mourns loss of one of its own

James Smith, 34, of Victoria, dies in Nanoose Bay incident

Fraser Valley woman complains of violent RCMP takedown during wellness check

Mounties respond that she was not co-operating during Mental Health Act apprehension

B.C. sees 12 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths

Three outbreaks exist in health-care settings

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

COVID-19: B.C. promotes video-activated services card

Mobile app allows easier video identity verification

ICBC to resume road tests in July with priority for rebookings, health-care workers

Tests have been on hold for four months due to COVID-19

Would you take a COVID-19 vaccine? Poll suggests most Canadians say yes

75 per cent of Canadians would agree to take a novel coronavirus vaccine

RCMP seek man facing sexual assault charges

Police believe he may be living on central Vancouver Island but also has a history in the Cariboo region

Most Read