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Cancer Prevention Tip: Be Sun Safe…Even When It’s Snowing

Read Time: 2 minutes

Baby in a snowsuit wearing sunglasses

For Cancer Prevention Month, we’re highlighting five behaviors that prevent almost 50% of all cancers.

Did you know you need to practice sun safety year-round? You may think about sun safety only during the summer, when temperatures are high. But temperature doesn’t affect the strength of the sun. Radiation from the sun is what causes skin damage. Rays from the sun can damage your skin any time of year.

Living at a high elevation—like here in the Mountain West—increases the chance for skin damage. Plus, we often travel to even higher elevations for winter activities like sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, or snowboarding. This means the risk for sun damage increases.

Why do winter activities and high elevations increase the chance for sun damage?

  • Ultraviolet (UV) rays become stronger as you gain elevation. At 10,000 feet, UV rays are 40% stronger than at sea level.
  • Just like sand or water, snow is a reflective surface. It can reflect up to 80% of UV rays from the sun. Even if you are not in direct sunlight, exposure to harmful UV rays can still cause skin damage.
  • Strong winds can reduce your skin’s natural sun protection and snow can decrease the effectiveness of sunscreen.

Tips to protect your skin year-round

Cover up

Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, scarves, hats, and gloves to protect your skin from the sun.

What Clothing Is Best for Sun Protection?

Wear sunscreen on skin not covered by clothes

Re-apply SPF 30+ sunscreen every two hours, or more often as needed.

Sun Safety Tips For You and Your Family

Choose the right sunscreen

Look for these words on the label:

  • SPF 30 or higher
  • Broad spectrum
  • Active ingredients of zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, or both

How to Pick the Best Sunscreen

Avoid tanning or burning your skin

Tanning beds expose you to harmful rays. Often this type of UV light is stronger and can cause more damage in less time than UV rays from the sun.

Myths and Facts about Sun Safety

Protect your eyes

Wear UV-reflective goggles or sunglasses while outside.

What You Need to Know about Eye Cancer and Eyelid Cancer

Protect your lips

Use lip balm with sunscreen to protect your lips from sun damage.

7 Tips for Sun Sensitivity During Cancer Treatment

Remember, sun damage can occur on even cloudy and overcast days. Use the tips above every day—even if it is cloudy, raining, or snowing. When you and your loved ones practice sun safety, you can enjoy more of the beauty Utah has to offer. Have fun and stay safe out there!

Cancer touches all of us.