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Flip-Flops, Baseball Caps May Raise Risk of Skin Cancer

WEDNESDAY, July 13 (HealthDay News) -- Wearing flip-flops and baseball caps can increase your risk of skin cancer, an expert warns.

"Most skin cancers occur on the parts of the body that are repeatedly exposed to the sun," Dr. Rebecca Tung, director of the dermatology division at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, Ill., said in a Loyola news release.

"The problem with flip-flops and baseball caps is that they leave the tips of the ears and the tops of the feet dangerously exposed to sun damage. The potential for skin cancers in those areas are real, especially on the tips of the ears," she explained.

Before flip-flops and baseball caps became so popular, people generally wore broad-brimmed hats and sneakers or shoes that protected the tips of their ears and the tops of their feet.

"But now those areas of the body have very little protection," Tung said. "Combine that with the fact that most people using sunscreen frequently overlook those parts of their bodies when applying it. That's not a very good combination."

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the nation, according to the American Cancer Society.

To protect yourself against skin cancer, including the potentially fatal form, melanoma, Tung said you should avoid overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays; use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day; wear protective clothing such as a wide-brimmed hat and long-sleeved shirt and pants; stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.; and avoid sunbathing and tanning salons.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about skin cancer prevention.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Loyola University Health System, news release, July 6, 2011

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