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Want a safe summer outdoors? Start with your skin

 A woman lounging on a chair next to a pool applies sunscreen to her left forearm.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70. The American Cancer Society estimates so far this year 760 Idahoans have been diagnosed with melanoma, a severe type of skin cancer.

Skin cancers can be curable if caught early, but there are some things you should keep in mind.

What you should know about sunscreen

Applying sunscreen is one of the easiest and most effective ways to decrease the risk of this potentially deadly cancer. Though sunscreen can be pricey and a hassle to apply, Julie Merten, an Associate Professor of Public Health at the University of North Florida, says it’s much better than the alternative.

“If [sunscreen] can save you this hardship of dealing with either having to have skin cancers removed, or death, and having that horrible burden for yourself and your family, why not? Why not do something that’s easy? Get in the habit of it and run with it, every day” said Merten.

Using sunscreen plays a key role in protecting skin from ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Namthip Muanthongthae
Getty Images
Sunscreen is crucial for skin protection and the SPF is important. But dermatologists say the key to good summer skin care is applying plenty of lotion and re-applying it often, even when it's cloudy.

Remember there are sunscreen alternatives

If you have concerns about the chemicals in sunscreens, there are mineral sunscreens made from zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which can physically block UV light. Mineral sunblocks may also be better for those with sensitive skin as they are less likely to irritate.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also says these mineral sunscreens are better for coral reefs and marine life.

Take sunscreen seriously

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports five or more sunburns doubles your risk of melanoma. So whether you’re floating the river or just taking a walk, be sure to take skin cancer seriously, and wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher and UV protective clothing –– today and every day.

Hi! I’m Sofia Blenkinsop, a sophomore at Boise State thrilled to work with Boise State Public Radio. After co-founding a podcast club in high school and writing and editing for my school newspaper, I’m excited to gain newsroom experience with the wonderful folks here at BSPR.

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