Preventing Skin Cancer Starts Now with These Healthy Habits   

Picture of woman with sunscreen on her nose
​Wearing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen are important steps to take to protect skin from UV rays. Image courtesy of 

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – ‘Tis the season for swimsuits, vacations, grilling out and just generally enjoying the outdoors. It’s also the season for sunburns and National Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Soghra Jarvandi, an assistant professor with University of Tennessee Extension, provides some much needed clarification on skin cancer and some tips to keep skin healthy.

“On a sunny summer day, you can enjoy a nice walk and soak up some necessary Vitamin D from the sun, but remember to take care of your skin as well,” says the expert. “Too much exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of skin cancer, but the good news is that most cases of skin cancer are completely preventable.”

According to Jarvandi, skin cancer is mainly caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. There are two types of UV light, UVA and UVB. Both can cause skin cancer and both can reach deep into your skin and damage DNA. The sun is the source of most UV light, but it also comes from sunlamps and tanning lights.

There are also two types of skin cancer. Nonmelanoma is the most common and includes squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Melanoma is a less common type that grows quickly.

To decrease your risk of skin cancer, Jarvandi suggests adopting these habits:

- Limit sun exposure between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

- When going outdoors, cover your skin with a hat, sunglasses, long sleeve shirts and long pants, even in the summer
- Avoid indoor tanning
- Apply sunscreen with protection factor (SPF) 15 or higher every two hours
- Stay in the shade as much as possible when spending time outdoors

For additional help and programs specifically about healthy choices, contact the family and consumer sciences agent at your local county Extension office. You can also visit the UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences website at

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Soghra Jarvandi, assistant professor, UT Extension Family and Consumer Sciences, 865-974-7328,