The Friday before Memorial Day is Declared “Don’t Fry Day” to Encourage Sun Safety and Awareness

Published on May 26, 2016

The Friday before Memorial Day is Declared “Don’t Fry Day” to Encourage Sun Safety and Awareness


Lisa Berry
Prevent Cancer Foundation

The Friday before Memorial Day is Declared “Don’t Fry Day” to Encourage Sun Safety and Awareness

Washington, D.C.  – May 23, 2016 – Skin cancer is a largely preventable disease, but it can be deadly.  Skin cancer continues to be the most common type of cancer in the nation, with almost 5 million cases diagnosed in Americans each year. That’s more than breast, colon, lung and prostate cancers combined.

dont fry day logoDue to the rising rates of skin cancer from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention – along with the Prevent Cancer Foundation and other membership organizations – designated the Friday before Memorial Day (May 27, 2016) as “Don’t Fry Day” to educate the public.  The “Don’t Fry Day” campaign aims to reduce the incidence of skin cancer by promoting sun safety and encouraging people to protect their skin while enjoying the outdoors.

In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General’s office issued a Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer due to the increasing rates of skin cancer in this country.  In the Call to Action, then Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H., stated, “The rates of skin cancer in our nation are increasing, creating a serious public health concern we cannot ignore.”

Following the trend of many states, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now considering a proposed rule banning the use of sunlamp products among minors. This would be great progress toward the prevention of skin cancer.

“As we move into spring and summer, many Americans will start spending more time outdoors. However, exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun and indoor tanning can increase the risk of skin cancer. Taking the time to get educated about the risks of UV exposure, along with taking steps to protect yourself from UV rays can make a big difference for your health while still allowing the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities,” said Carolyn Heckman, PhD, an associate professor in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Fox Chase Cancer Center and chair of the National Council’s Don’t Fry Day campaign.

“Healthy Tans” are damaging health and putting lives at risk.  Whether in direct sun or by exposure to harmful UV radiation from tanning beds or sun lamps, individuals are damaging their skin and increasing their risk of skin cancer. A “base tan” is a sign of skin damage, not health.

While the skin needs sunlight to help manufacture vitamin D, important for normal bone health, overexposure to UV light can be detrimental by damaging and killing skin cells.  The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention recommends obtaining vitamin D through food and supplements.

The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention urges the public to understand the risks of UV exposure, and encourages them to protect themselves from the sun and reduce their risk of cancer.

Protecting yourself from the UV rays:

    • Do Not Burn or Tan
      • Avoid intentional tanning.
    • Seek Shade. 
      • When sun’s rays are the strongest between the hours of 10AM and 4PM. 
    • Wear Protective Clothing. 
      • Long-sleeved shirts and pants.
      • A wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
    • Generously Apply Sunscreen
      • Use a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher for protection from ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which contribute to premature aging, sunburn and skin cancer.
      • Apply 15 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
    • Use Extra Caution Near Water and Sand
      • These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.

For more information on how to protect yourself from skin cancer and how to spread the word, visit the National Council’s site at The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention is the united voice of more than 45 organizations, associations and agencies dedicated to prevent skin cancer through education, advocacy, and raising awareness.  National Council members represent the nation’s premiere physicians, researchers, clinicians and advocates for skin cancer prevention.

Sign up to get the latest about cancer prevention and early detection directly in your inbox.