May 25, 2012 10:04 PM by Siera Santos

Skin cancer prevention? There's an app for that!

Heading into Memorial Day weekend, everyone knows to lather on the sunscreen before heading to the pool or a barbeque. As part of national "No Fry Day," there's a new technological twist on skin cancer prevention.

The Environmental Protection Agency provides a free app that gives an instant ultraviolet (UV) ray readout by zip code. There is also an hour-by-hour readout to help downloaders make plans according to UV exposure.

"On days whenever the UV is high, perhaps it might be better to go out and do activity early in the morning when the UV is a little bit lower or later in the evening," says dermatologist Dr. Vinh Chung of Vanguard Skin Specialists.

The World Health Organization declared ultraviolet rays as a carcinogen. Compared to the rest of the United States, Colorado has a 30 percent higher rate of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

"With our high altitude, being 6,000 feet above sea level, we get about 25 to 30 percent more UV than the rest of the country," says Dr. Chung.

Unlike a hot or cold temperature, the UV index is trickier. Even on cloudy days, UV rays can be quite harsh.

"It's a good way to remind ourselves that these rays are coming on and causing damage to our skin even though we don't see it."

The app is available for iPhone, Blackberry and Droid.

Download it here.


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