X-Men Star: Protect Skin With Sunscreen

Hugh Jackman plays Wolverine, a superhero with fast-acting healing powers, in the X-Men blockbuster movie series. Off-screen, he’s battling skin cancer and has advice for the public: Wear sunscreen, and protect your skin.

Jackman’s current health scare represents his third round of treatments for basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in less than12 months, according to published reports. Basal cells are found in the outer layer of the skin, known as the epidermis. BCC, a nonmelanoma skin cancer, occurs when “abnormal, uncontrolled growths or lesions” develop in the outer layer of skin, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Of all types of cancer, BCC occurs most frequently. Every year, nearly 3 million new cases of BCC are diagnosed in the U.S., reports the Skin Cancer Foundation. BCC is rarely fatal, but can be very disfiguring if untreated.

The main cause? Intense or accumulative exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from sun exposure or tanning beds.

“There is no such thing as a safe tan, whether it’s obtained at the beach from the sun or produced artificially from an indoor tanning bed,” said Alysa Herman, M.D., a micrographic skin surgeon experienced with the Mohs technique and affiliated with South Miami,  Baptist and Doctors Hospitals. “It doesn’t matter if your skin turns red signaling a sunburn or turns golden brown demonstrating a suntan, both colors are evidence that damage is occurring.”

Signs of BCC include:
  • Red patches or pink growths.
  • Open sores or scars.
  • Shiny bumps.


Skin Protection Tips

Using sunscreen and wearing protective clothing can protect your skin from sun damage, pre-mature aging and skin cancer. Here are a few tips:

  • Hit the shade. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m., even on cloudy days.
  • Dress for safety. Wear protective clothing, including a wide-brimmed hat that shades the head, face, neck and ears. Tightly woven clothing also can offer protection.
  • Apply sunscreen. When outdoors, adults and children should wear sunscreen and reapply it every two hours.
  • Study labels. Sunscreens have a sun protection factor (SPF) that rates how effectively the product blocks out ultraviolet rays and protects against sunburns. Choose one with a rating of at least 30. On the bottle label, look for the phrases “broad spectrum protection” and “water resistant.”

Additional steps to prevent skin cancer include checking your skin routinely and reporting any changes to your dermatologist, especially a new growth; changes in the size or color of a mole, growth or spot; or a sore that does not heal, says Dr. Herman. Ask your dermatologist how often you should have a skin cancer screening, and follow the doctor’s orders.

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