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OMAHA — In addition to certain sunscreens, what you consume could reduce your chance of getting skin cancer. According to Creighton University dermatologist Dr. Christopher Huerter, studies have revealed that drinking around four cups of coffee a day could decrease your risk of getting melanoma by 20 percent. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Eating carrots also can help fight off the sun’s damaging rays because they contain a pigment called beta-carotene. According to Huerter, beta-carotene can make people less sensitive to the sun and less likely to burn.

Too much exposure to the sun can damage the skin and could eventually lead to skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. But you can reduce your risk by taking steps to protect yourself from the sun. Huerter says sun-protective clothing items like cover-ups and swim shirts can provide protection and are becoming more popular and fashionable, especially among women and children.

Applying sunscreen frequently is essential if you’re outdoors, even on cloudy days. Huerter recommends sunscreens of at least SPF 50 that contain titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. Broad spectrum sunscreens are the best choice. “There’s FDA-mandated language on sunscreens, and if it says broad spectrum, it means you have ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B protection,” Huerter said.

Huerter says there also is a common misconception about sunscreen -- that if it is applied just once, you’re safe. “People should apply sunscreen every few hours if they’re out in the sun, especially if they get their skin wet,” Huerter said. “People who think they don’t need sunscreen because they have a tan are wrong; they can still get burned.”

There also is a misconception about indoor tanning. “People who tan indoors shouldn’t. Indoor tanning is not safe, and if you’re getting any color at all, you’re doing damage to your skin,” Huerter said.

Sunburn is the most common risk factor of sun exposure and can lead to the deadliest type of skin cancer, melanoma. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 76,000 people are diagnosed with melanoma each year.

“The sun may trigger melanoma, but people can also get it in areas of their body that haven’t had previous sun exposure. If someone has a brown lesion on their skin that is changing or increasing in size, they should get checked by a doctor,” Huerter said.

Certain groups of people are more susceptible to developing skin cancer. Transplant patients are more at risk since they take drugs that may block the body’s ability to block skin cancer. People with fair skin also are more at risk.

So, if you’re thinking of fun in the sun this summer, don’t forget the sunscreen.

About Creighton University: Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, enrolls 4,100 undergraduates and 4,200 graduate and professional students among nine schools and colleges. No other university its size offers students such a comprehensive academic environment with personal attention from faculty-mentors. Jesuit and Catholic, it affords incomparable inter-professional education, bridging eight health professions programs with law, business and the arts and sciences – all on one walkable campus. Creighton has been a top-ranked university in the U.S. News & World Report for 20 years.


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