It's warming up out there, and as always, the annual media drumbeat about the importance of sunscreen gets louder as the sun climbs higher in the sky.
But slathering on the SPF isn't just about keeping sunburn at bay—the threat of skin cancer is actually higher than you probably thought. How much to you really know about your skin's health, and what you can do to protect it? Read on to find out.
1. Scientists just discovered a groundbreaking new treatment.
Let's start with the good news: On Monday, researchers found an even more effective way to treat skin cancer.
Two clinical trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that combining two cancer drugs to treat advanced cases of melanoma was incredibly effective. For a few patients, these two drugs worked even better than the current leading treatment for melanoma.
Doctors and skin cancer patients are especially thrilled with this discovery because melanoma is so deadly. As many as 80 percent of patients die from the disease, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
2. Skin cancer is the most common cancer.
Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer every year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. That's more new cases of skin caner each year than breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer combined.
Older adults are most likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer, but all age groups are really at risk.
3. Going to the tanning salon isn't any safer than tanning outdoors.
Listen up, tan-a-holics: More people get skin cancer from indoor tanning than get lung cancer from smoking.
Health officials consider indoor tanning so dangerous that a few countries have actually outlawed it. Good luck finding a tanning salon in Brazil or most of Australia.
4. Sunburns are more dangerous than you might think.
Your risk of melanoma—the deadliest variety of skin cancer—doubles if you've been sunburned more than five times.
In fact, 90 percent of all skin cancers (excluding melanoma) can be linked to exposure to UV rays.
And if you need even more convincing that the sun is not your friend, how about this: Sunlight is also responsible for fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. As much as 90 percent of the changes you see in the mirror can be linked back to the sun.
But you can fight back. Using a sunscreen with at least 15 SPF daily lowers your risk of developing skin cancer by 40 to 50 percent, depending on the cancer. Plus, sunscreens and moisturizers also keep your skin looking young and healthy—you can't beat that.
Photo credit: arbyreed via Flickr