ARCHIVED - Prevent Skin Cancer: Stay Safe in the Sun


One of the main causes of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet radiation, or UV rays. UV rays are invisible, and are produced by the sun and tanning lamps. Most often, skin cancer is the result of overexposure to the sun.

Most cases of skin cancer are preventable. Canadians can reduce their risk of getting skin cancer by taking some simple but important steps. To avoid the harmful effects of UV rays, everyone should:

  • Select shaded areas for outdoor activities.
  • Wear a broad-brimmed hat and clothing with a tight weave, including a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, if you have to spend long periods in the sun.
  • If you cannot cover up, use a sunscreen lotion with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15. Make sure it has both UVA and UVB protection. Apply liberally to exposed skin 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun, and re-apply 15 to 30 minutes after sun exposure begins. You should also re-apply sunscreen after vigorous activity that could remove the product, such as swimming, towelling or excessive sweating and rubbing.
  • Avoid overexposing yourself to the sun without protection, especially between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. during the summer months.
  • Avoid the use of tanning lamps.
  • Be aware that certain medications can make your skin more sensitive to UV rays. Consult your doctor if you have questions about your medication.

The precautions listed above are especially important for babies and children, who are at greater risk than adults because of their more sensitive skin. For more information, please visit:

It’s Your Health - Skin Cancer Prevention

The Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada work in partnership to monitor cancer in Canada. This involves identifying trends and risk factors for cancer, developing programs to reduce cancer risks, and doing research to evaluate risks from the environment and human behaviours. As part of this work, we also promote public awareness about sun safety and the harmful effects of UV radiation.

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