June is Men’s Health Month, and for good reason. According to recent studies, men are far less likely than women to seek routine preventive health services and are less involved in health initiatives. Men typically avoid regular visits to their physician and even delay care for potentially life-threatening conditions. This month focuses on promoting the awareness of men’s health through the knowledge of early detection, treatment and preventive steps necessary to avoid sickness, ensuring a long, healthy and happy life. There is no better time than now to educate yourself and other men in your life on things you can do to improve and maintain your health. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Whether outdoors doing yard work or vacationing down at the shore, it is important to take care of your skin. It is strongly recommended to apply an SPF of at least 30 every time you go outside. Be sure to apply the broad-spectrum and water-resistant sunscreen approximately a half hour before going outdoors and reapply every few hours. Wearing UV-blocking sunglasses, hats, and lip balm with an SPF are all strongly advised to further protect yourself throughout the hot, sunny summer months. Try not to plan your outdoor yardwork and activities in the sun’s peak hours, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., when it is the strongest.

Men over the age of 50 are twice as likely to develop and die from skin cancer than women, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, so it is not smart to ditch the sunscreen. Annual skin cancer screenings from an early detection screening program, such as MoleSafe, in addition to monthly self-skin exams are strongly recommended. By enrolling in an early detection screening program that incorporates total-body photography, digital dermoscopy and digital serial monitoring, you are getting the best care and attention for your skin. Early detection screening and surveillance programs detect melanoma at the earliest possible stages, when it is the most treatable. If you find any suspicious moles, new or old, during your self-skin exams, it is important to visit your physician immediately for further examination and care.

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Men taking prescriptions and other medications should be more cautious when enjoying the summer weather. Drugs like Viagra raise a red flag. Emerging evidence suggests that there is a connection between melanoma and Viagra, citing that the drug mimics key parts of a process that lets melanoma cells spread to other parts of the body. According to the study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, men who used Viagra were 84 percent more likely to develop melanoma over a period of 10 years. Although that does not mean that Viagra causes melanoma, it is important to be mindful of its potential risk. There are also a number of common sun-sensitizing drugs that you should be careful with if you are planning on going outdoors, including Cordarone, a heart medication; tetracycline, a common antibiotic; and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. These drugs absorb UV light, releases it into the skin, causing cell death. People who are taking them may have minor to serious side effects when exposed to the sun. Be aware of your medications and if you are on a sun-sensitizing drug, follow the instructions on the prescription and avoid the sun, or apply sunscreen if you have to be outside for a short period of time.

Taking action towards a healthier lifestyle is in your hands, so take control! Depending upon your family history and other potential risk factors, you may be more likely to develop skin cancer. As part of Men’s Health Month, I encourage you to take steps towards an improved lifestyle and seek regular medical advice and attention, especially if you notice any abnormalities. Contact your local hospital for information on various screenings and educational events available to you and your loved ones, and look for early detection screening programs for melanoma to stay on top of your skin health.

For more information on skin and melanoma screenings, visit us at www.molesafe.com. If you live, work or own a business in Millburn, you are eligible to receive 20 percent off your initial screening. When booking your appointment, be sure to mention the “Millburn Appreciation Program.”