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Every morning I turn on my radio to hear Environment Canadaís UV ratings for the day. Now that summer is upon us the readings are very high with the warnings to cover up and use sun screen.

I did some research and found that we humans have depleted the ozone layer in the atmosphere: there seems to be a hole above Antarctica. The average size of the ozone opening is bigger then North America . It seems that 75% of the ozone layer has been lost due to us humans polluting the environment.

Big deal you say, If it donít hurt why should we care? It has been a long winter. We all have been looking forward to catching a few rays and chilling out on the beach.

What is wrong with a nice bronze tan? Movie star, Bo Derek, started the trend many a sun ago and she looked absolutely sensational frolicking in the surf.

Wait a minute; it seems that exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer and causes damage to the DNA in the skin cells.

Continual exposure to UV radiation increases the risk of skin cancer due to the cumulative damage to the DNA & suppression of the immune system.

Skin cancer is one of the most preventable form of cancer but according to the Canadian Cancer Society the disease is equal to all other forms of cancers including breast, colon and lung. 6,500 new cases of malignant melanoma will be diagnosed this year with 1,050 patients expected to die from the disease.

More men than women contact skin cancer and die from it because they traditionally have exposed their skin to the sun. The more sun exposure you get, the more tanned you get can result in skin cancer.

Other forms of cancer rates have fallen but sadly the incidence of skin cancer has grown. The prediction for this year is 80,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with skin cancer

The threat of skin cancerís effects didnít hit me until recently when my family doctor referred me to Dr Guenther, a Dermatologist for an opinion on some moles on my face.

The doctor checked me over and found some troubling signs on my forehead and nose. She recommended that we have a biopsy and try Nitrogen Therapy where she tried to burn out the problem .

After a month I came back to hear the results of my biopsy. The test results showed that I had Basal Cell Cancers that needed further intervention. The Doctor did a Punch Excision where she cut/ stitched up my forehead and nose and applied bandages.

I looked like I had been in a war. A young girl, Mary Lou, at the Y who saw my bandages asked; "What had happened to you"? I told her that my wife had beat me up. She laughed and told me that:" I probably deserved the punishment". She was right. I never concerned myself with protecting myself from the ravages of the sun

The Dermatologist has some suggestions for me to follow to prevent further skin cancer. Reduce the sunís exposure when it is at itís peak between eleven and four. Try and seek shade - an umbrella/parasol helps. Long sleeved shirts, trousers, a wide brimmed hat and two gloves when playing golf can make a difference. Baseball caps do not cover your ears or the back of your neck.

Try and wear loose, tightly, woven dark clothing-Jeans absorb the light and protect the skin.

Wear sun glasses that filter out UVA/UVB rays to protect your eyes from cataracts and retinal problems later in life.

Convertibles and sun roof equipped cars allows the sunís rays to burn your thinning hair line.

Remember to apply broad based spectrum sun screen before exposure to the sun. The sunblock protection factor (SPF) should be at least 70. Remember that the lotion degrades with time and heat exposure. Check out the best before dates .

Our childrenís baby strollers should be equipped with a canopy to block out the sun rays.

I reminded my daughter to avoid sun tanning parlours. They do not protect your skin. Ultraviolet rays hurt your skin. The World Health organization has listed UV as a carcinogen and does not recommend the use of tanning parlours for people under the age of eighteen. A tan indicates that you have damaged your skin which is trying to protect itself from injury.

Getting a bronze look has consequences. Over time you can look forward to your features becoming leathery and wrinkled. Lots of brown liver spots with the prospects of expensive cosmetic surgery as you age.

I now check out my moles in the mirror to see if there has been changes in colour, shape, or size, If you too are concerned see your physician asap to have them checked out.

Skin Cancer is more common then any other form of Cancer. Basal Cell Skin Cancer has been increasing by 5% a year in North America. The sad statistic shows that 5-7% of the population will develop skin cancer in their life time. Melanoma can kill you.

The staff at the Dermatologists centre are all pale. They protect themselves from the sun The desire for a tan quickly fades when you see and care for people with skin cancer.

Take the time to care for yourself and your family. Please do not become another statistic.

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com