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Skin Cancer Risk Greater Now, After the Heat Wave

PHOTO: Sunscreen should be applied every two hours when outside, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
PHOTO: Sunscreen should be applied every two hours when outside, or more frequently if swimming or sweating.
July 10, 2012

DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa has just finished the hottest week in the last 19 years, with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees for days. The risk of sunburn and eventual skin cancer may be greater now that the heat wave has broken.

That worries Chuck Reed with the Iowa chapter of the American Cancer Society.

"Now that we've had a little bit of a break in the heat, I think people will be going back outside more. And actually now is when we are most concerned because people will be outside more."

Reed says the more exposure, the greater risk of developing skin cancer. So now, when it's not as oppressively hot, is when protections are needed the most. The CDC says more than 3 million Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer every year, and just one sunburn doubles the risk of skin cancer down the road.

"We've found that, especially with younger people, one really bad sunburn can cause a lot of damage later on in life: it just takes one."

He says using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, putting a hat on, wearing sunglasses and avoiding peak hours of sunshine and heat will all help avoid dangerous burns and potentially fatal skin cancers.

Richard Alan, Public News Service - IA