Make the right choices to prevent skin cancer

Published 6:25 pm Monday, July 29, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

Melanoma is one of the most common cancers. It’s also the deadliest form of skin cancer. And it’s affecting more and more people.

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New research now shows that from 1970 to 2009, the rate of melanoma increased by 800% among women ages 18-39.

The research was presented at the 2019 American Academy of Dermatology Summer Meeting. In addition to the startling increase in melanoma, it also revealed large increases — 145% and 263% — in basal cell and squamous cell cancers.

“Because there’s a delay between UV exposure and when skin cancer appears, most women don’t think it will happen to them,” said dermatologist M. Laurin Council in a news release about the research. “This data reveals the disproportionate rise in the number of skin cancers in women and the need for further education regarding UV exposure.”

The new data was presented in the middle of summer, when many people are enjoying the warm, sunny weather. So it’s easy to think going out in the sun without sunblock on is the main culprit, but that’s not what the data shows.

“Continued use of indoor tanning devices by Caucasian girls and young women is of particular focus, as researchers estimate that it may cause more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year,” according to the release. “… Even one indoor tanning session can increase a user’s lifetime risk of developing melanoma by 20%, squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%. The risk increases for younger users; indoor tanning before age 35 can increase one’s reisk of melanoma by 59%. This risk increases with each use.”

Not that ultraviolet rays from the sun aren’t a concern. There are common-sense ways you can be safe outside, too, such as:

• stay in the shade when possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. when the sun’s rays are most direct;

• wear ultraviolet-blocking sunglasses, hats that shade your face and lightweight, long-sleeved and long-legged clothes; and

• use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunblock rated at least SPF 30.

“Parent’s should also discourage the use of indoor tanning devices,” according to the release.

There are plenty of risks we encounter every day in our lives that we have no control over. Skin cancer is one risk you can reduce by making smart choices, using common sense and avoiding exposure to ultraviolet light when possible.

“Everyone should be happy with the skin they were born with and protect it,” Council said in the release. “Some skin cancers are treatable with surgery, but others are more advanced and may be deadly. It’s important that we modify risky behaviors such as UV exposure to prevent the occurrence of skin cancer.”

Make the right choices to prevent skin cancer