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

Preparing for climate change focus of upcoming workshop in Williams Lake

NStQ communities, licensees, local governments and interested people invited to share ideas

From the archives of the 100 Mile Free Press

40 YEARS AGO (1980): 108 Mile Ranch was to become the first… Continue reading

Sugary drink tax could use some work

The weekly editorial for the 100 Mile Free Press

RCMP release photos of a suspect following two break-and-enters at a 100 Mile business

The 100 Mile RCMP responded to a report of two break-and-enters that… Continue reading

Athlete in Focus: Khale Skinner of the 100 Mile House Wranglers

Not every player can come into a new team mid-season and explode… Continue reading

VIDEO: Behind the scenes of turning newspapers into digital archives

Kelowna Capital News donated materials dating from 1980 to 2000

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Heart attacks strike B.C. husband and wife just over one year apart

Courtenay couple share personal stories to bring awareness to heart month

‘Nothing surprises us anymore:’ U.S. border officials find brain in package

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents found the brain packed in a glass mason jar in a Canada Post shipment

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Eyes on police after Trudeau orders blockades torn down, injunctions enforced

The RCMP in B.C. have sent a letter to the traditional leaders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation

B.C. massage therapist suspended following allegations of sexual misconduct

While suspended, Leonard Krekic is not entitled to practice as an RMT in B.C.

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

Most Read