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Archived - Sun Awareness Week
As Canadians, we know that our hot sunny days are limited, and so when the warm temperatures finally hit, we shed our layers and head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. But whether you're at the beach, on a bike ride or spending time in your backyard, it's important that you practice sun safety in order to reduce your risk of skin cancer.
As Minister of Health, I invite all Canadians to join me in recognizing the Canadian Dermatology Association's "Sun Awareness Week" which takes place Monday, June 1 to Sunday, June 7, 2015. Since 1989, this campaign has helped educate Canadians about the dangers of excessive sun exposure.
Skin cancer is the most common of all cancer types. About one third of all new cases of cancer in Canada are skin cancers, and the rate continues to rise. Skin cancer can develop when ultraviolet (UV) radiation - also known as UV rays - damages the DNA of your skin cells. Most people can prevent skin cancer by avoiding UV rays from the sun and other sources, like tanning beds or lamps.
You can help prevent the harmful effects of UV rays using these tips:
- Cover up. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat made from breathable, tightly-woven fabric. When you buy sunglasses, make sure they provide protection against both UVA and UVB rays.
- Limit your time in the sun. Keep out of the sun and heat between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. When your shadow is shorter than you, the sun is very strong. Look for places with lots of shade, like a park with big trees, partial roofs, awnings, umbrellas or gazebo tents. Always take an umbrella to the beach.
- Use the UV Index forecast. Tune in to local radio and TV stations or check online for the UV index forecast in your area. When the UV index is 3 or higher, wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
- Use sunscreen. Put sunscreen on when the UV index is 3 or more.
- Drink plenty of cool liquids (especially water) before you feel thirsty. If sunny days are also hot and humid, stay cool and hydrated to avoid heat illness. Dehydration (not having enough fluids in your body) is dangerous, and thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.
- Avoid using tanning beds. If you do use them, understand the risks and learn how to protect yourself.
The best way to find skin cancer in its early stages is to examine your skin often. I urge you to see your doctor right away if you notice any abnormally dark or discoloured patches or spots or bleeding, crusting or change in the colour, size or shape of a mole.
Following these precautions will help keep you safe from harmful UV exposure. From my family to yours, I wish everyone a healthy and safe summer!
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Minister of Health
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