Maine CDC Press Release

June 16, 2008

Sun Safety is As Easy as Slip, Slap and Slop

Contact: Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH 287-3270

AUGUSTA - With the weather turning warmer and the days getting longer, many people are making the time to enjoy the Maine outdoors. Building a lifetime of safe-sun habits is simple and there’s no better time to begin now.

Earlier this month, Sun Safety Week was celebrated, with a focus on building a lifetime of safe-sun habits.

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. In fact, more than one million cases of skin cancer are found in this country each year, including approximately 67,720 cases of melanoma, the most serious and deadly form of skin cancer. While many believe that skin cancer is not a problem in Maine, it is estimated that 410 Maine people will be diagnosed with melanoma in 2008.

The good news is that most skin cancers are slow-growing, easy to recognize, and if detected early, highly curable. Nearly 99 percent of basal cell and squamous cell cancers can be cured when they are found early and treated promptly. For people with melanoma, the overall five-year survival rate is 88 percent. So, it’s clear that early detection is crucial.

Studies show a link between sunburn in childhood and an increased risk of skin cancer. More than 80 percent of a person’s sun exposure happens before their 18th birthday, so starting good sun protection habits early is extremely important. However, it’s never too late to start protecting your skin.

The best way to avoid risks of sunburn and skin damage that can lead to skin cancer is to adopt a year-round safe-skin regimen. Sunburn can happen when you least expect it – early in spring, late in fall, on cloudy or overcast days, even during the frigid days of winter.

It’s easy to enjoy the outdoors by remembering the American Cancer Society’s Slip, Slop, Slap method:

Slip on a shirt,

Slop on sunscreen with an SPF15 or higher, and

Slap on a hat.

In addition, limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear sunglasses with 99 to 100 percent ultraviolet (UV) light absorption to provide optimal protection for the eyes and surrounding skin.

The sun shines all year round, so it doesn’t matter what your calendar says. Your skin needs protection from the sun whenever you go out and these simple steps can keep you sun-safe.