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Combatting Skin Cancer: Eight Healthy Habits

Make healthy sun protection habits part of your angling agenda to help prevent ever having to worry about the sun stopping the fun.

 As anglers, perhaps more than anything else, we're creatures of habit.

That tendency to be habitual can come in handy when it comes to sun safety, too. Here are eight healthy habits that will keep you fishing for life.

Apply Sunscreen

How Often: Every two hours

This might seem obvious, but if you make sunscreen application a part of your daily routine it will be that much easier to remember. Before you look outside, check the weather, or even get dressed for the day, lather on the sunscreen. If applying sunscreen becomes habitual, it won't be something you have to “remember” to do.

Do A Self-Examination

How Often: Once every month

Detecting the physical outward signs of skin cancer can be one early way to prevent any further spreading. There are various different signs that might indicate a spot, mole or area of skin is becoming cancerous. Rather than know each and every specific change that might indicate cancer, it's best to remember that any change could indicate cancer. If an existing mole or a spot on your skin appears out of nowhere, if it begins to itch, if it becomes sore, if it starts to bleed, if it becomes larger or changes shape, or you notice anything, have a dermatologist take a look.


Fish in Lowlight Conditions

How Often: Every day

Any fisherman worth his salt knows that in most situations, the best time to be on or around the water is right at sun-up and right before sunset. Lowlight periods are normally when fish are feeding most actively. However, fishing during low-light periods has some health benefits as well. The intensity of the sun is highest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which means you'll be at a higher risk for burning during those time periods. Keep this in mind when planning your day on the water. And there's no risk of getting burnt at night, but the fishing's still hot.

Use The Right Clothing

How often: When purchasing

While all clothing interrupts the rays of sunlight before they reach your skin, Some clothes are better at others some products are better at keeping UV rays out than others. Shirts and pants that offer a 50+ Ultraviolet Protection Factor rating are the best for long days on the water.

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See You Dermatologist

How Often: At least once a year

You might think that checking your skin on a regular basis means you're in the clear. But consider that there are parts of your body, like your back and the back of your neck, that are exposed to just as much sun as your hands yet are very difficult to examine. A good dermatologist knows just what to look for and where.

Replace Your Sunscreen

How Often: Every Year

If you're looking at a bottle of sunscreen that is more than three years old, ditch it. If you're following the guidelines for applying sunscreen, a bottle shouldn't last you more than a summer anyway, but don't take it for granted that the bottle of sunscreen you purchased a year or two ago is still as effective because it isn't.


Pass on the Info

How Often: Constantly

Don't assume that your fellow fishermen or friends are as sun savvy as you are. If you see a friend baking in the sun, getting burned or forgetting to apply sunscreen, share some of the information you've learned. You could save a life.


Be Prepared

How Often: Always

Anglers are human and as humans we're capable of forgetting from time to time. Whether it's on your boat, at Fish Camp or traveling in your truck, take along an extra hat, Buff, UV-protective clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses, so no matter where you are, you always have sun protection with you.

From the author: Skin cancers, like melanoma, have reached epidemic proportions and few people are at a greater risk than anglers. Skin cancers kill more people than all other types of cancers combined. Most skin cancers can be prevented by taking care outdoors and using the right Sun Safe Gear.

After losing my father to skin cancer, I've become determined to make a difference in his memory. That's why I'm fishing my way around Florida to raise awareness, and with the help of the folks at Buff and the online editors at Florida Sportsman, In-Fisherman, Fly Fisherman, and Game & Fish Magazine, raise as many dollars as I can for the Melanoma Research Foundation. Follow the journey on my blog, FishingRick, and through a Facebook page where I'll share more updates.

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