The sun does a lot for humanity, but all that good can come back to burn you in the end. 

Science tells us that the sun's ultraviolet light causes the body to produce endorphins that reduce stress and elevate mood. Furthermore, UV rays tell our skin to produce vitamin D, and our sleep-wake is impacted heavily by sunshine in the morning. While those are just some benefits, the sun can also be deadly without the proper protection.

Karen Faurschou from Central Plains Cancer Services (CPCS) says it shouldn't be a question; you should always wear sunscreen.

"Everyone should wear sunscreen. People should know that it doesn't matter what the temperature is. It's based on the strength of the UV rays in the summer," she continues. "I think people should know that they should also practice sun safety in the winter. Wearing sunscreen and applying it correctly is extremely important."

 

Faurschou outlines that individuals should apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two to three hours.

She says the sunscreen you use is not necessarily based on how light or dark you are.

"As soon as your skin has changed colour, there is the potential for sun damage. We recommend a minimum of 30 SPF and ideally 50 for SPF."

Faurschou shares vital statistics regarding skin cancer in Canada.

"I just want to make sure that everyone knows that 85 out of 100 people were diagnosed with Melanoma in Canada, where it's caused by direct UV light from the sun. In Canada, Melanoma is the seventh most common cancer and the most common cancer in young people ages 15 to 20. In 2022, 9,000 new cases of Melanoma were diagnosed in the country."

Faurschou delivers presentations to students in the area regarding the harm of not lathering up with sunscreen. She shares her takeaways from those presentations.

"I know that young students are really, really good about wearing sunscreen. That generation has grown up always knowing about sunscreen," She notes that males in their 30s and farmers tend to stay away from sunscreen more than anyone else. "Our concerns are for the caregivers, parents, grandparents. I don't think they're as good about putting the sunscreen on."

Faurschou says CPCS has bracelets you can get at their office, which will help with sun safety. 

"We have bracelets that are white and turn colour when exposed to the UV rays, and that is a reminder to make sure that they are practicing good sun safety." 

 

According to Stats Canada and a Canadian Community Health Survey from 2005 to 2014, women are around twice as likely as men to use sunscreen on their faces (63% vs. 29%) or bodies (51% vs. 26%). Sun protective measures varied between the two—women were more likely than men to seek shade (46% vs. 36%), while men were more likely than women to wear a hat (50% vs. 27%) or cover their legs (35% vs. 19%).