Splash photo


Many people think that a tan makes them look healthier, but looking healthy is not the same as being healthy. Sun exposure has many unhealthy consequences if your skin is not properly protected. Burned skin or tanned skin is damaged skin. When added up, everyday sun exposures are linked to squamous cell cancer. Although not as dangerous as melanoma, squamous cell cancer is far more common, and the number of cases has been going up every year. Many people think it's okay to get a sunburn now and then, but studies show that even occasional exposure to strong sunlight can increase the risk of the most serious type of skin cancer, melanoma.

The American Cancer Society promotes the following sun safety behaviors for all people every day:

  • Limit the amount of time you spend in direct sun, especially when the sun’s rays are most intense, generally from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
  • Wear protective clothing when you’re out in the sun, such as:
    • Long sleeves
    • Sunglasses
    • Hat that shades your face, neck and ears

  • Wear sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher on all skin that isn’t covered
  • Protect your skin even on cool or cloudy days

Regular skin self-examinations and periodic skin exams with your health care provider are also recommended by the American Cancer Society in order to aid in the early detection of skin cancer in adults.

This month, see how much you know about sun safety by taking the quiz below and then checking your answers on the worksheet attachment to the right. Also, visit the American Cancer Society’s Sun and UV Exposure page for additional information and tips to be safe in the sun!



  1. I can’t get skin cancer, because my normal routine (such as work, drive to work, hobbies, and vacations) doesn’t include any outdoor activities.

  2. My husband should use sunscreen at football games, even though he only goes (and gets a burn!) once or twice a year.

  3. If I’m wearing sunscreen, I can stay in the sun as long as I want.

  4. A sunscreen labeled SPF 30 blocks twice as much UV radiation as one labeled SPF 15.

  5. It’s safe to let my children stay in the pool all day if they put on a t-shirt after a couple hours and reapply sunscreen to their faces, arms and legs.

  6. Water-resistant sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours or sooner, after sweating or swimming, and after towel drying.

  7. Getting a "base tan" at an indoor tanning salon is a good way to prevent sunburn when I go to the beach later this summer.

  8. The two most common (and painful!) sunscreen mistakes are using too little and waiting too long to reapply.