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

Just Posted

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

B.C. COVID-19 contact restrictions working, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

’Not out of the woods yet’ as next two weeks are critical

Interior Health to host virtual town hall Friday, March 27

The Q&A forum begins at 6 p.m. PDT, link in story

West Kootenay octogenarian helping develop low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

Peter Brockley is working with his doctor son, Graham, to develop the unit that could save lives

Grand Forks and Boundary cancellations, changes due to COVID-19

This newspaper’s list of community events, institutions that change or cancel due to pandemic

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

B.C. VIEWS: Small businesses need our help

Just as integral in neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Surrey as they are in Prince George or Kelowna

‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace with demand

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million residents give blood on a regular basis

Morning world update: Cases surge past 600,000; positive news in Germany

Spain suffers its deadliest day as Germany considers April 20 to possibly loosen restrictions

VIDEO: Penguins roam empty halls of Vancouver Aquarium

COVID-19 has forced the Vancouver Aquarium to close access to guests – leaving room for its residents

Kids get back to learning in B.C., online

Ministry of Education rolls out new tool for school

67 more B.C. COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Vancouver region

Positive tests found in Surrey, Langley long-term care facilities

Most Read