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Sun safety: reducing your risk of health issues from heat stroke to melanoma

Staying safe in the summer heat
WATCH ABOVE: Going out in the summer heat without any sun protection can cause some serious health consequences, and doctors from the MUHC are warning Montrealers about the risks - from heat stroke to skin cancer. Global's Navneet Pall reports.

MONTREAL – If you ever needed a good reason to slap on the sunscreen, here’s one: melanoma.

Going out in the summer heat without any sun protection can cause some serious health consequences — and damage can happen in minutes.

With temperatures expected to soar, and a heat warning already in effect for the Montreal area, doctors at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) are warning people to stay safe.

“It’s very important to do daily sun protection. Not even on sunny days, but every day,” said Dr. Beatrice Wang, director of the melanoma clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital of the MUHC.

“Skin cancer is the fastest growing cancer in Canada and many parts of the world and it’s so preventable by protecting your skin on a regular basis.”

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Short-term sun exposure can result in painful sunburn, and long-term exposure can cause skin cancer — the most dangerous form of which is melanoma.

“I’ve been protecting my skin most of my life, but since being diagnosed with skin cancer, it’s evident that I have to continue to stay healthy,” said Dan O’Neil, a survivor.

“I’ve had three surgeries for melanoma.”

The MUHC offers a few tips to stay safe in the sun.
The MUHC offers a few tips to stay safe in the sun. MUHC

In 2005, O’Neil had extensive surgery on his leg and three years ago, he was diagnosed with skin cancer just underneath his left eye.

He had to have his entire cheek and part of his forehead removed.

“It’s something that, if you can avoid it, I suggest taking every measure you have to avoid it and doctors are promoting that everybody should be wearing a hat and sunscreen on a daily basis at all times,” O’Neil told Global News.

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“Protect your skin … do the due diligence, change before you have to, before you’re diagnosed.”

Approximately 5,000 Canadians are diagnosed with melanoma each year, and nearly 1,000 die.