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Doctors warn sun protection is needed even during winter to prevent dangerous skin cancers

Doctors warn sun protection is needed even during winter
Doctors warn sun protection is needed even during winter 01:56

MANHASSET, N.Y. -- Doctors want everyone to know sun protection is needed even during the winter.

They tell CBS New York's Jennifer McLogan that applying sunscreen is key and harmful ultraviolet rays are present year-round. Even after you put away the boat and the beach chair, danger lurks.

Wednesday was another gorgeous winter day at Jones Beach, but with the winter sun beaming down, damaging ultraviolet rays intensified, bouncing off water, sand and snow.

Some beachgoers seemed unconcerned.

"You don't wear sunscreen?" McLogan asked.

"Never in my life. No [sunglasses], nothing," one person said.

"I should, but I don't. I was actually warned by my doctor recently that I should," another person said.

"Reflective rays off of the snow are worse than an 80-degree day at the beach," Manhasset dermatologist Dr. John Walczyk said.

Walczyk warns preventing skin cancer requires year-round diligence.

Alyson Pineda does not want to repeat the mistakes of her 77-year-old grandfather who, sadly, died of skin cancer.

"Honestly, we found out too late. Ironically, it was also in winter that he had carcinoma because he used to under the sun a lot," she said.

The sun is actually closer to Earth during winter months. The sun's beams reflect off the sides of clouds and off snow, causing radiation to be more focused and dangerous.

Any exposed skin is vulnerable.

"When you're driving a car, your hands are on the steering wheel. Your hands are getting exposure ... Hands are one of the number one areas we take off skin cancers -- whether it's farmers, outdoor laborers, " Walczyk said.

He adds winter surfers, skiers, shovelers and dog walkers have all been diagnosed.

Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can be disfiguring. Melanomas can be fatal.

Dermatologists say your sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 broad spectrum to block both UVA and UVB rays.

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