14 Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer (Besides Sunscreen)

Of course, you need sunscreen: But skin cancer prevention requires so much more. Here's expert advice on keeping your skin safe.

The real deal with sunscreen

Attractive woman with healthy skin applying sunscreen to shoulder wearing white sun hatAila Images/Shutterstock

There's no way around it: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (mainly from the sun) is a major risk factor for most skin cancers, not to mention wrinkles, premature aging, and vision loss. According to the American Cancer Society, UV rays damage DNA in skin cells, which cause abnormalities in cell growth. And while, yes, everyone should properly apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen—be sure to follow these dos and don'ts—sunscreen alone can't fully protect you, warns the American Academy of Dermatology. Check out some more surprising causes of skin cancer.

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"Nicotinamide is a form of vitamin B-3 that's been shown to help protect against skin cancer," says Kim Nichols, MD, a dermatologist in Greenwich, Connecticut, and spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation. "It fights free radical production and also repairs DNA that's been destroyed by UVA light, which can lead to skin cancer." Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that a person's risk of developing a secondary nonmelanoma skin cancer was reduced by 23 percent after taking 500 mg of nicotinamide twice daily for 12 months. "If you have a history of a basal or squamous cell carcinoma or if you're fair-skinned and live in a very sunny area, like Florida or California, talk to your physician about taking nicotinamide," says Dr. Nichols.

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About 53 percent of skin cancers in the United States develop on the left side of the body, which happens to be the drivers' side, notes a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. To shield skin from dangerous rays while in a vehicle, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a transparent window film made to block UVA rays. (Apparently, while car windows already filter out UVB rays, only partially-treated windshields protect against UVA rays.)

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