Summer is fast approaching. This means barbequing, walks in the warm weather, fishing and exposure to the sun. The sun is an amazing thing. There is nothing that compares to a bright, warm, sunny summer day. However, the sun that we love so much can be harmful.

Skin cancer is affecting us more and more every year. The American Cancer Society reports more than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer each year. Deadly melanoma is diagnosed almost 70,000 times. Even though cancer is being found earlier, resulting in a better chance for survival, the number of cancer cases actually are on the rise annually.

With some education we can reduce our chances of staying cancer free. Follow the tips below to kick skin cancer in the butt before it kicks your butt.

As young children, most of us wore sunblock. It is important to apply sunblock at 20 minutes before you will need it. This will allow it to soak into your skin before you begin to sweat it off. On your arms, legs, face and neck use an SPF of at least 30. On the top of your ears and nose which sunburns easily use an SPF no lower than 50.

Even with high temperatures it is important to wear clothing to protect yourself from the harmful UV rays. Avoid dark clothing. Instead concentrate on light weight, light colored pants and long-sleeved shirts. Look for shirts and pants that will wick away moisture and will keep you cool.

One of the most likely spots on the body to attract skin cancer is the head. Always wear a hat with a front bill. It does not matter if it is sunny or cloudy, UV rays are present. For the best protection wear a hat that also has a back bill to protect your neck. It is even possible to get skin cancer on your scalp with a full head of hair, thus another reason to wear a hat for those of you fortunate to have hair to comb.

Have you noticed a person who has spent a lot of time in a tanning bed and the damage that was done to their skin. The same thing can happen if you receive too many natural sunburns. Some of the highest percentage of adults at risk for skin cancer are the ones who had a lot of sunburns in their childhood. Sunburns will happen, that is just part of life. When you get one, treat it with an aloe based lotion, cool showers, and take a pain reliever if you have a headache. One way to reduce the risk of sunburns is to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water while fishing and stay away from caffeine and alcoholic beverages. This will promote healthy skin.

Always protect your retinas from harmful UV rays. The best way to defend your eyes is by wearing sunglasses that wrap around your head. Not only does wearing polarized sunglasses help you locate fish, but also cuts down on glare and protects your eyes from fishing lures.

Not too long ago after having a routine physical my doctor became concerned with a couple of moles on my back. This is when I learnt the importance of self-examinations, especially for people with a fair complexion, many freckles and moles, or have had sunburns as a child. Just before or just after you take a shower examine your body for moles and freckles to see if there are any changes in their size, color or shape. I also recommend to see your doctor annually to check for signs of skin cancer. Lastly, be mindful of high-risk areas such as the face, nose, ears, the back of your hand and the back of your legs for moles and freckles that look suspicious.

Enjoy the summer and be safe.

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Jason Houser
Jason Houser is an avid traditional bowhunter from Central Illinois who killed his first deer when he was nine years old. A full-time freelance writer since 2008, he has written for numerous national hunting magazines. Jason has hunted big game in 12 states with his bow, but his love will always be white-tailed deer and turkeys. He considers himself lucky to have a job he loves and a family who shares his passion for the outdoors. Jason writes full time and is on the pro staff of two archery companies; in his free time, he fishes and traps as much as possible.