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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 05/22/2009

Sun Safety: Don't Fry Day Friday

By Ann Posegate

* Holiday Forecast & BeachCast | NatCast | CWG Summer Outlook *

Dont_Fry_day_Official_Logo-TM.jpg

Move over, Sun Day. Make way for Fry Day Don't Fry Day. Today marks the launch of Don't Fry Day, a campaign for sun safety awareness organized by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency. Beginning this year, Don't Fry Day will be observed every Friday before Memorial Day. The council's goal is to remind families that are heading outdoors for the long weekend and planning summer activities to reduce sun exposure and protect their skin.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, and to its benefit, it's preventable. Yet, according to the council, more people will get skin cancer this year than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer combined.

Keep reading for more on the risks of skin cancer and sun safety...

The American Cancer Society estimates that over 1 million cases of basal cell or squamous skin cancer (non-melanoma, less serious) and 62,480 cases of malignant melanoma skin cancer (very serious) were diagnosed nationwide last year. Consider that the current U.S. population is around 304 million ... that's a one in 300 chance of getting non-melanoma skin cancer. Breaking it down on an even smaller scale, the Society estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. (Read more facts.)

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent), is the ultimate culprit. Sunlight is one source of UV light. But, there are artificial sources as well: sun lamps and tanning beds. In 2006, a study revealed that in the 116 most populous U.S. cities, there were more tanning salons - a mean of 42 per city - than there were Starbucks coffee shops.

So how does one prevent skin cancer? Besides avoiding tanning salons, the best way is to cover up when spending time outdoors. Don't Fry Day's main message is Slip, Slop, Slap...and Wrap:

Slip on a shirt;
Slop on sunscreen (of SPF 15 or higher);
Slap on a hat; and
Wrap on sunglasses.


This year, the council is emphasizing the "Slap" portion of the message, encouraging the public to wear a hat that shades the face, neck and ears during outdoor activities. This especially goes for children: getting sunburn as a child increases one's risk of getting skin cancer as an adult.

The slogan is modeled after one of Australia's most effective public health campaigns ever, Slip, Slop, Slap!, which featured a Sid the Seagull cartoon character singing the message on a television commercial back in 1981.

Humans are animals too, but unlike turtles, camels and other animals (PDF), our bodies don't have physical structures that prevent sunlight from reaching our skin and eyes. If you're heading outdoors this weekend, check the UV index and weather forecast before you go, and avoid spending a lot of time in the sun between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The index is likely to be in the very high range, so remember to "Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap."

You can also join the Don't Fry Day group on Facebook, or follow DontFryDay on Twitter. And check out this video...

By Ann Posegate  | May 22, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health, Posegate  
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Next: Forecast: Not Bad for Much of Holiday Weekend

Comments

Great advice, Ann. I simply cannot understand why so many people ignore it, as witnessed by strolling down any beach or around any pool with hoards of folks purposely frying themselves under clear, sunny skies. There ought to be signs posted with the something like the message on cigarette packages; Warning,Sunbathing is Dangerous to Your Health.

Posted by: SteveT-CapitalWeatherGang | May 23, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

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