According to CANSA (Cancer Association of South Africa), there are 5 myths that we need to dispel about the sun and skin cancer.

  • The sun is only dangerous in summer or on a hot day.
  • Sunscreen will protect you completely from the harmful effects of the sun’s rays.
  • One or two cases of sunburn will not result in skin cancer.
  • People with darker skins are not at risk of getting skin cancer.
  • Sunbeds are a safe alternative to obtaining a tan.

All of these myths are exactly that – myths! They are NOT true.  

The National Department of Health reports that South Africa has a high rate of skin cancer irrespective of the skin  colour of an individual. In addition to skin cancer, overexposure to UV (ultraviolet) radiation can also cause eye  damage apart from early ageing and the damaging and painful prospect of sunburn.  

There is no such thing as a healthy tan, including “tans” from sunbeds. 

CANSA advises that there is no such thing as a healthy tan. Indoor tanning or sunbeds are not safe options. In fact,  first use of sunbeds before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 59%. In 2009, sunbeds and tanning  booths were officially classified as cancer causing agents by the IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer). 

How can you protect yourself against UV radiation?

  • Apply medically approved sunscreen.
  • Slip on loose, covering clothing.
  • Wear a hat.
  • Seek the shade.
  • Use appropriate sunglasses.
  • Simply stay out of the sun.
  • Stay away from sun beds.

What are the signs of skin cancer?  

There are various forms of common and uncommon skin cancers and not all present in areas exposed to the sun.  You should make an appointment with your doctor if you notice any changes to your skin. It is never advisable  to self-diagnose as not all skin changes are caused by skin cancer. Let your GP investigate any skin changes to  determine a cause.

How can your Link community pharmacist help you? Before buying sunscreen, talk to your pharmacist to ensure  that the product will work for you and get some expert tips on how and when to apply it. And remember, applying  sunscreen does not replace other precautions such as protective clothing and staying out of the sun.

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While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this article, information may change or become dated, as new developments occur. The Link group shall not be held liable or accountable for the accuracy, completeness or correctness of any information for any purpose.