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Cancer Glossary Prevention

Does Sun Protective Clothing Reduce the Risk of Skin Cancer?

1 year, 5 months ago

7729  0
Posted on Feb 09, 2023, 5 p.m.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 7,990 people will die in 2023 due to Melanoma, a form of skin cancer. These worrying statistics about skin cancer continue to get worse in many countries across the globe. The prevalence of skin cancer in many countries is worsening due to global warming. 

Regardless of how much it is talked about and discussed, many people still do not understand how skin cancer is caused.

How Skin Cancer is Caused

Fundamentally, all cancer conditions are caused by the cells of the body growing out of control or the growth of bad skin cells. When this happens in the skin cells, it is called skin cancer

Skin cancer has two main causes: exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun and previous skin damage from either radiotherapy or sunburns. A significant percentage of skin cancer cases are caused by exposure to the sun's harmful rays. Over the years, people have taken up various measures to protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays. 

Wearing protective clothing and sunscreens has been among the most common preventive measures. Sunscreens have existed for quite a while and are popular among most people. However, sunscreens are not as effective as the wearing of UV clothing.

Without any protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays, the sun damages DNA in one’s skin. Once the DNA in one’s skin is damaged, some cells die, and some get abnormalities. The cells that develop abnormalities cause skin cancer. The rapid division of the newly formed abnormal cells forms the development of a mass of cancer cells only.

Depending on several factors, some people are more likely to get skin cancer than others. One of these factors is one’s eye color and hair color. People with red or blonde hair and those whose eyes are light-colored are at higher risk of getting skin cancer. People with freckled skin are also susceptible to easily developing skin cancer.

Like other types of cancer, family history also affects one’s risk of skin cancer. People with a family history of relatives developing skin cancer can easily develop skin cancer. If one has a family history of developing skin cancer, they should take preventive measures and consult a professional if they notice any weird signs. 

UV Protective Clothing Explained

Protective clothing offers protection from UVA and UVB sun rays for longer than sunscreen. With the introduction of protective clothing in the market, the Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) was developed. 

UPF is similar to SPF ratings on sunscreen and other cosmetic products, indicating the number of UVB rays the product blocks. The UPF rating, however, considers both UVB and UVA rays. This is what makes UV clothing more effective than sunscreen and other cosmetics.

Different factors about clothes and how they are made contribute to their UPF rating. It is important to note that while all clothing offers some level of protection from UV rays, not all can qualify as protective clothing since they do not meet the standards. Clothing such as hats with wide rims, long-sleeved pants, shirts, etc., offer some UV protection.

UPF rating consists of three fundamental levels. The levels are good UV protection, very good UV protection, and Excellent UV protection. Clothes with good UV protection range between UPF 15-24 protection levels. Those with good UV protection offer protection levels between UPF 25 and UPF 39. Excellent UV protection level clothing cover from UPF 40 to UPF 50.

The UPF protection level allocation to clothing depends on several factors.

  • Cloth Color

Generally, dark-colored clothing prevents more UV rays from reaching one’s skin. This means that black, dark grey and brown clothes will offer more protection than white, pink, etc., clothing. However, a keen look into this factor shows that the level of UV blocking is attributed to the high concentration of UV-blocking cloth dye in the clothes. This means that the type and quality of dye used on clothing greatly impact its ability to offer protection from UV rays and prevent one from getting skin cancer. 

  • Fabric

Some cloth fabrics offer more sun protection to the wearer than others. The factor that counts most is how dense the fabric threads are packed together. The dense fabric prevents more UV rays from the sun.

An easy way to know how good a piece of fabric will offer protection from UV rays is by holding it up to the sun. Clothing that will allow you to see through will not offer top-tier protection from UV rays. When seeking UV ray protection, you should opt for denim clothes, synthetic fibers of densely knitted wool over loosely woven clothes.

  • Weight

The weight of various fabrics also affects the UPF rating of the cloth. In this case, clothes with more mass or weight will offer more protection from UV rays from the sun when compared to lighter clothes. 

  • Fabric Stretch

As earlier stated, one way to know whether a cloth will offer good sun protection is by holding it up to the sun and looking through it. If the cloth allows you to see through it, the sunlight protection will be low. This is better explained by the stretch factor of a fabric. When good, heavy fabrics that offer good UV protection are stretched, their ability to block UV rays reduces. 

With this in mind, you should consider how stretched the fabric is or how stretched it will be when worn because this will affect its sun protection.

  • Clothing Additives

Other factors about clothing affect its ability to block UV rays other than the physical attributes of the fabric. One can use detergents that offer UV ray protection. This greatly improves a clothes UPF rating. Using detergents with blocking additives is an easy way to get UV ray protection from all your clothes. 


The fact that Ultra-violent protection cloths block UVA and UVB rays from the sun significantly reduce one’s risk of developing skin cancer. The protection acquired from UV protective clothing is enough to buy your own and stay safe and protected from cancer. 


1. Is Skin Cancer a preventable condition, or is it a genetic condition?

Skin cancer is a preventable condition. Its association with one’s genes is that a family with a history of developing skin cancer is at a higher risk of developing it if they do not take preventive measures.

2. Is protective clothing good at preventing skin cancer?

Protective clothing that is approved and has a UPF rating is good at preventing skin cancer. Protective clothing blocks UVA and UVB rays from the sun, offering complete protection.

3. How do I choose the best UPF rating for me?

The concept of UPF ratings on different clothes can be confusing, especially for people without SPF ratings on sunscreen. However, attendants in businesses that sell protective clothing are always nearby and willing to guide you regarding any questions about UV protective clothing. 

This article was written for WHN by Daniel Martin who has had hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. Creating winning content teams is his passion, he has built high-performance teams that have produced engaging content enjoyed by millions of people. In addition to playing ping pong and photography, Dan loves to travel.

As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.

Opinion Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of WHN/A4M. Any content provided by guest authors is of their own opinion and is not intended to malign any religion, ethic group, club, organization, company, individual, or anyone or anything.

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References/Sources/Materials provided by:'s%20estimates,5%2C420%20men%20and%202%2C570%20women).,value%20increases%2C%20sunburn%20protection%20increases.

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