Health officials in Mississippi are urging residents to protect themselves from the sun's harmful U-V rays. MPB's Alexis Ware reports
"I wish that I had first never tanned."
Jessica Lilley is a Pediatric Endocrinologist in Tupelo and a survivor of skin cancer. She was diagnosed with early stage Melanoma in 2009.
"I felt like I was responsible a lot of fear. Having medical exposures means that I'd seen people suffer from Melanoma I knew that the survivor rate for stage four was abysmal."
Dr. Rick Deshazo is with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He says it's important for people of all skin complexions to limit direct sun exposure by covering skin and using sunscreen. He recommends everyone wear sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.
"It's important that it be applied every two or three hours when you're in direct sun because it wears out and it's sweated off so it has to be repeated. And, if you're swimming, there's no such thing as a water proof sunscreen."
Skin damage from the sun is cumulative. It happens over a period of time. Deshazo says people who had sun burns with blisters when they were young are more likely to get skin cancer later in life.
Jessica Lilley says Melanoma runs in her family. She now advocates for more people to be responsible in protecting their skin against the sun.
"Stay out of the tanning bed is number one and then just being religious about sunscreen use. We underestimate our kind of casual sun exposure. We think you know just running errands we don't have to put on sunscreen that we don't have to cover up from the sun and just occasional beach trips or things like that are okay."
Experts say it's important to wear sunscreen year round, even during winter months.