The Link Between Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer: How to Protect Yourself

There is a strong link between sun exposure and skin cancer, which is why it is so important to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with more than 5.4 million cases diagnosed each year (American Cancer Society, 2021). While anyone can develop skin cancer, people with fair skin, a family history of skin cancer, or a history of excessive sun exposure are at an increased risk.

Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, as the UV rays from the sun can damage the DNA in skin cells and lead to the development of cancerous cells. UV rays can also weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off cancerous cells.

There are several ways to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays:

  1. Wear sunscreen: Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day, even when it is cloudy or you are not planning on spending much time outside. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours or after swimming or sweating.
  2. Wear protective clothing: Wear clothing that covers your skin, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat. Choose clothing made of tightly woven fabric, as it will offer more protection from the sun’s UV rays.
  3. Seek shade: Avoid being outside during peak sun hours, which are typically from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Seek shade under trees, umbrellas, or other protective structures.
  4. Wear sunglasses: Wearing sunglasses can help to protect your eyes from the sun’s UV rays, which can lead to cataracts and other eye problems. Choose sunglasses that block out 99-100% of UVA and UVB rays.
  5. Get regular skin cancer screenings: It is important to get regular skin cancer screenings to detect any potential problems early on. A board-certified dermatologist can perform a skin cancer screening to check for any suspicious moles or spots on your skin.

In conclusion, there is a strong link between sun exposure and skin cancer. To protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays, it is important to wear sunscreen, protective clothing, seek shade, wear sunglasses, and get regular skin cancer screenings. If you have any questions or concerns about skin cancer, be sure to visit a board-certified dermatologist.


American Cancer Society. (2021). Skin cancer facts. Retrieved from