Skin cancer results from the unrestrained growth of abnormal skin cells, and if lift untreated the cancerous cells can spread from the skin into other tissues and organs. There are many types of skin cancer, but the most common form is basal cell carcinoma, which occurs in the lowest layer of the epidermis (outer layer of the skin). In the United States, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. The risk factors for developing skin cancer are one’s complexion, genetic makeup, age, sun exposure and sunburn. Research indicates that skin cancer is most common in persons who are fair skinned with light colored hair and eyes, who have a family history of melanoma, and who are over the age of 40. There is nothing we can do about our complexion, age or genetic makeup, but we can do something about the primary causes of skin cancer: sun exposure and sunburns. Minimizing exposure to the sun’s harmful rays is the most effective prevention for skin cancer, and it’s easy! Things you can do are: avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., when the sun is most intense; cover up with clothing like long-sleeved shirts and hats; use sunscreen (even during the winter months) with an SPF of at least 30, and apply it 30 minutes before sun exposure with reapplication after sweating and swimming. Houston dermatologist Dr. Anthony Nikko and the staff of the Nikko Cosmetic Surgery Center want you to enjoy the upcoming July 4th outdoor festivities, but please take precautions to protect your body’s largest organ – the skin.