Feb 27, 2018 3:00 PM

Skiing on a fresh powder day in Utah

With high mountain peaks and acres of powdery snow, Utah is known for its great skiing. But Utahns who spend lots of time outdoors at high elevations are at increased risk for sun damage, which can lead to skin cancer. With Utah’s mostly fair-skinned population, it’s no wonder the state has the highest rate of melanoma in the country. And even though skiing happens in winter, sun damage is just as likely on the slopes as it is on the beach:

  • The sun’s UV rays are more intense at higher elevations. At 10,000 feet, you’re 70% more exposed to UV rays than at sea level.
  • Snow acts like a gigantic mirror and reflects 80% of UV rays up towards your face.
  • That’s 150% more exposure to harmful UV rays than if you were at the beach.

Even one sunburn has a significant impact on your risk of skin cancer. It’s very important to protect your skin from sunburn while you’re out earning your turns.

  • Cover up. Wear long sleeves, a hat, and UV-reflective goggles or sunglasses.
  • Wear sunscreen on exposed skin. HCI recommends SPF 30 or higher sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Sun Safe on the Slopes program educates ski resort employees on the importance of sun safety and provides skin cancer screenings. Contact Garrett Harding, Community Outreach Manager, for more information.

Learn more about cancer screening and prevention.

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