Beware outdoor workers risk of skin cancer

Published online: May 25, 2014
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The month of May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and as many may know, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. Most often caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, which is radiated from the sun, tanningbeds and sun lamps, skin cancer affects more than two million people annually.

Despite myths that the melanin in darker skin protects and makes Hispanics less prone to skin cancer, it is increasingly prevalent among the growing U.S. Hispanic population. An article published by the Skin Cancer Foundation in 2013 reports that, in the past two decades, there has been a 20 percent rise in the number of Hispanics with an incidence of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer.

According to the Department of Labor, Latinos account for almost one in four workers in the construction industry. There are also over 500,000 Hispanic workers in the landscape industry across the United States, as reported by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

A common risk factor for developing skin cancer is outdoor work. Due to the many safety hazards that come along with working on outdoor jobsites in industries like construction and landscape, the risk of skin cancer is often neglected.

“Outdoor workers spend hours out in the blazing sun each day. It is very important for those in the industry to not only be cautious with the heavy machinery thatthey operate daily, but to also place importance on personal health,” said Raul Berrios, president of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance and owner ofRulyScapes.

The time of day during which the sun is considered most threatening is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For those who work outdoors and cannot avoid sun exposure, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer:

* Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs

* Wear a hat with a wide brim to cover your face, head, ears and neck

* Wear sunglasses

* Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, with both UVA and UVB protection

To learn more about causes, prevention and treatment for skin cancer, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/