SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's warm weather months can be filled with lots of sun and outdoor fun possibilities, but all that solar exposure can be dangerous. And despite a relatively cool and somewhat cloudy spring so far this year, health experts are warning people to avoid too much fun in the sun.

Questions about issues people should be aware of regarding the prevention of skin cancer will be answered on Saturday 10 a.m. to noon during the monthly Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Hotline. Dermatologists Brad Rasmussen and Jason Hansen with Intermountain Healthcare will answer calls.

From the Salt Lake area, call 801-236-6061. Elsewhere, the toll-free number is 1-800-925-8177.

"Sun exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer," Hansen, who works at Intermountain Memorial Clinic and LDS Hospital, said. "The things to keep in mind are generous application of a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed skin."

Broad spectrum indicates that the lotion blocks both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays from the sun, he said.

Hansen said that another key point to protecting skin is to reapply sunscreen "every couple of hours even on a cloudy day."

"One misconception is that the clouds completely filter UV light, when a lot of the harmful UV light penetrates straight through the clouds," he said.

He said that even though sunburning is more common in people with lighter complexions, people of all skin tones and ethnicities should understand they could burn during overexposure.

He also encouraged people who spend a lot of time outdoors to include sunglasses, wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeve shirts and pants in their sunshine wardrobe.

"Wearing clothing that provides an additional layer of protection against the sun makes sense," he said.

Rasmussen, who practices at the Intermountain Salt Lake Clinic and LDS Hospital, said people should also avoid spending too much time being exposed to artificial sunlight.

"Skin cancer is becoming more common and prevalent these days, and some of it does have to do with the tanning booth," Rasmussen said.

He said that people could do considerable harm to their skin whether they spend an inordinate amount of time tanning outside or inside.

"It's all about burning. You're at a higher risk if you have blistering sunburn," Rasmussen said. "Those with type 1 or 2 skin with lighter complexions are at greater risk for skin cancer than people with types 3, 4 and 5 (which include African-Americans)."

While Rasmussen conceded that gradual sun exposure would reduce a person's skin cancer risk, he said that continued exposure over time could lead to premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.

"(Sun exposure) is like everything, if you misuse it or abuse it, you're at more risk for skin cancer," Rasmussen said.

Health care hotline to focus on prevention of skin cancer

Issues people should be aware of regarding the prevention of skin cancer is the topic of Saturday's Deseret News/Intermountain Healthcare Hotline. From 10 a.m. to noon, dermatologists Jason Hansen and Brad Rasmussen of Intermountain Healthcare will answer questions from callers. From the Salt Lake area, call 801-236-6061. Elsewhere, the toll-free number is 1-800-925-8177, only operational during hotline hours.

e-mail: jlee@desnews.com