Seattle -- Every hour, one American dies from skin cancer – the number one cancer in the U.S. To help people learn easy ways to combat the disease, the U.S. EPA SunWise program has partnered with the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention to designate the Friday before Memorial Day (May 27) as “Don’t Fry Day.” EPA encourages Alaskans to learn about and practice sun-safe behaviors this Don’t Fry Day to reduce overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation – the main cause of skin cancer.
Each Memorial Day weekend, millions of Americans kick off the summer season and begin enjoying the great outdoors. Though skin cancer risks exist all year long, the dangers are even greater during the summer months, when the days are longer, and more people are outside for longer periods of time.
“Even here in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, where it can be cloudy and rainy, it’s important that we protect ourselves from harmful UV rays,' said Dennis McLerran, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, are among the top ten states for new melanoma diagnoses, so it is very important that we practice sun-safe behaviors year-round, not just during the spring and summer months.”
Fortunately, people who choose to protect their skin from the sun can easily acquire a sufficient amount of vitamin D by mouth (from a combination of diet and vitamin supplements), providing an alternative route to maintaining a healthy vitamin D concentration that avoids the cancer risk associated with sun exposure.
For “Don’t Fry Day,” Region 10 encourages Alaskans to practice the Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap safety tips, which include:
- Slip on a shirt, preferably with sleeves;
- Slop on SPF 15+ sunscreen generously;
- Slap on a hat; and
- Wrap on sunglasses.
SunWise also recommends that families seek shade during the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Checking the UV Index to plan outdoor activities is also key for identifying times that pose the greatest risk for overexposure to the sun.
In the U.S., skin cancer affects more than two million people each year, outnumbering the cases of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. One in five Americans will develop the disease in their lifetime. Meanwhile, melanoma—the most serious form of skin cancer— is on the rise. It is the most common cancer among young adults ages 25 to 29. From 2003-2007 Alaska ranked 48th.
For more on “Don’t Fry Day” and additional sun safety resources, including a sun safety packing list and new public service announcements created by kids in K-8, go to: http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/dfd.html.
EPA’s SunWise program is a national environmental and health education program that teaches children and their caregivers how to be safe in the sun through the use of classroom-, school-, and community-based components. To learn more about free SunWise resources, download the UV Index widget or smart phone application, or sign up to receive daily UV Index forecasts, visit www.epa.gov/sunwise.