Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Overexposure to the sun is the number one environmental factor in developing this potentially fatal disease. Approximately 90% of all skin cancers are caused by UV exposure. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. What you wear can play an important role in protecting yourself. Always wearing a t-shirt when you’re exposed to the sun can help prevent skin cancer.
Whenever you’re outside, you’re exposed to UV rays. UV rays are actually a form of radiation, and they can change the structure of your body’s cells. Even when it’s cloudy and overcast we’re still being hit with UV rays. It’s easy to forget and assume that you’re safe on days when it’s not bright and sunny.
Researchers estimate that as much as 70% of the skin damage caused by sunlight occurs during our everyday activities. Your trip outside to grab the newspaper, driving to the grocery store…all the time we spend outdoors adds up and so does the sun damage.
Wearing a shirt is particularly important if you’re outside between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. During that time, the sun’s rays are at their strongest. You should also wear long pants and a hat for maximum protection during those hours.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and it’s caused by extended periods of sun exposure. You should wear a t-shirt each and every time you’ll be in the sun for any significant amount of time. It can be tempting to mow the law with no shirt on or wash the car in your bathing suit to “get a little sun.” However, you’re increasing your chances of developing melanoma each time you do it. Why take the risk when putting on a t-shirt is so easy to do?
Wearing a t-shirt is especially important when you’re at the beach. Not only are you exposed to the hot sun all day, UV rays are also reflecting up at you from the surface of the water. People often mistakenly believe that wearing sunscreen is sufficient protection. Doctors agree, however, that it’s only one of several steps you should take to protect your skin from sun damage.
A dark-colored t-shirt with a tightly woven fabric will provide you with the best protection. Be sure that it thoroughly covers both your upper back and your shoulders. A tight weave is important because when your shirt gets wet it allows more light through.
There’s ample evidence that getting sunburned significantly increases your chances of getting skin cancer. Studies have shown that your risk of developing skin cancer actually doubles if you’ve had five or more sunburns in your lifetime.
Children in particular should always wear a t-shirt when outdoors for long periods of time. Blistering sunburns in childhood is a factor contributing to the development of melanoma.
It’s not only Caucasians who have to worry about skin cancer. People of all races and ethnic backgrounds are vulnerable. African Americans, Asians and Latinos are at a low risk for developing skin cancer, but the disease is the most deadly for these groups because it’s less likely to be caught early. Learn about cancer and help join the fight against cancer by visiting the American Cancer Society or check out the National Cancer Institute for cancer statistics.