Australian actor Hugh Jackman, who plays Wolverine from Marvel's "X-Men", posted a photo on his Facebook page on Feb. 8 showing his bandaged nose, urging his fans to wear sunscreen to avoid skin cancer. A representative for Jackman assured that the cancer was fully removed and that the actor was doing well after the surgery.

The A-lister has been diagnosed with basal carcinoma at least three times already. While this form of skin cancer is the most common, it is also avoidable if only people would take proper precautionary measures. Of course, one of the ways to avoid the disease is to learn how to properly use sunscreen, as the Aussie actor advised.

Of course, everyone would be worried when "The Big C" comes up in any conversation or post but let's lay down the facts when it comes to skin cancer and how one can avoid it.

The Facts
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States (U.S.) with around 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer diagnosed each year. These two skin cancer types are avoidable and curable when detected early but can lead to disfigurement. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, accounts for 10,000 of the 13,000 deaths from skin cancer each year. While melanoma is curable in its very early stages, it has the tendency to aggressively spread in other areas of the body which may be difficult to treat.

The Key Cancer Ingredient
Exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) Rays is the major cause of most skin cancer cases. There are three types of UV rays but, at present, we only need to worry about UVA and UVB rays which penetrate the skin and cause tissue damage that can lead to cancer. UVC rays are deadly but it is absorbed by the ozone layer so it might not even be a problem if people continue to fight against climate change.

The good news is that, even if human skin can absorb UVA and UVB rays, we always have sunscreen to help protect us from the risk of cancer. The bad news is that not many are aware of how to use sunscreen properly in spite of the directions written on the bottle.

Protect Yourself From Cancer With Sunscreen
Consider the number printed in bold on the bottle followed by the letters "SPF." Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is the sunscreen's measure of how well it can protect a person's skin from UV rays. Dermatologists recommend using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or SPF 30 sunscreen. If you're wondering why it's not higher, it's because higher numbers offer just about the same protection as an SPF 30.

To put it simply, an SPF 15 sunscreen would block about 93 percent of the UV radiation that try to enter a person's skin while an SPF 30 will block about 97 percent. An SPF 50 sunscreen would just be an additional one percent protection and may give a user a false sense of protection. A better option would be to use an SPF 15 or SPF 30 properly and make sure the sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB radiation.

There are really only two things to remember with proper sunscreen usage. The first is to apply it 30 minutes before exposing yourself to the sun and the second is to reapply every two hours because, like most products, the protection wears off with sweat and sun exposure.

Photo: Jarrod Trainque | Flickr

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