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Powerful Choices Podcast: Enjoy the Sunshine - Safely

May 2009

Colleen: Welcome to the American Cancer Society’s Powerful Choices Podcast series, where you'll get the information you need to help you be well and stay well. I’m Colleen Doyle, the American Cancer Society’s director of nutrition and physical activity. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Now that the weather is warming up, it's a great time to get outside. Outdoor activities are part of a healthy lifestyle -- a great way to get some exercise and fresh air, and spend time with family and friends.

Of course, one thing that can ruin your outdoor fun is a sunburn. They're painful, and they can raise your risk of developing skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the United States.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, is with me today to talk about how to avoid sunburns when you're spending time outside.

Len: Thanks, Colleen. The catchphrase we like to use for sun safety is Slip, Slop, Slap and Wrap. It's an easy way to remember the 4 steps that can protect your skin.

"Slip" means "Slip on a shirt." Go for dark colors and tightly woven fabrics rather than a light white T-shirt, which doesn't offer a lot of protection.

"Slop" means "Slop on sunscreen." Use a product with SPF 15 or higher, and look for one labeled "broad spectrum." Use about a palmful to cover your arms, legs, neck and face. Put it on about 30 minutes before you go outside, and reapply every 2 hours, or more often if you're swimming or sweating.

"Slap" means "Slap on a hat." One with a wide brim or a neck drape will protect your face, ears and neck best. A baseball cap can protect the front of your face, but not your ears or the back of your neck, two places where skin cancers commonly develop.

And finally, "wrap" means "Wrap on sunglasses." Look for ones with a label that says they block 99 or 100 percent of UV rays. Glasses labeled "cosmetic" block a lot less than that, and those with no UV information might not block any.

Colleen: Thanks, Len. Those are great tips that can help us all enjoy the outdoors more often. For more information about how to keep safe in the sun and reduce the risk of skin cancer, visit cancer.org/sun-safety, or call us at 1-800.227.2345, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. From all of us here at the American Cancer Society, thanks for joining us!