Summer is coming to a close, but not our addiction to find that perfect sun kissed glow. We are obsessed with perfectly bronzed skin, but do we know how it will affect us the older we get? In some cases the perfect tan can come with deadly consequences like skin cancer.
Skin cancer comes in two forms: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is by far the deadlier of the two, and is responsible for 4% of diagnosis. Over 75% of patients diagnosed with skin cancer will die from melanoma, a fatal statistic that many who seek the sun seem to overlook.
Intense exposure to the sun and UV radiation are two of the largest risk factors for melanoma. But did you know that working indoors can also increase your risk of skin cancer? Studies show that indoor workers are more likely to receive a skin cancer diagnosis than outdoor workers. Many doctors attribute this to the fact that many people who work in an office tend to seek the sun when they are on vacation and are more prone to sunburns, since their skin isn’t as used to the sun as someone who works outdoors.
Studies have also proven that the more sunburns you’ve had in your life, the greater the risk of skin cancer. Over 42% of Americans get a sunburn at least once a year, according to The Skin Cancer Foundation. They have also found that a person’s risk for melanoma more than doubles if there is a history of five or more sunburns within their lifetime.
Tanning beds may seem like a solution for a year-round glow, but proceed with extreme caution. These beds are known to cause more cancer than cigarettes, because of the concentrated UV radiation focused on your entire body. Indoor tanning can also cause ocular melanoma. The next time you step into a tanning salon, ask yourself this – is tanning really worth your eyesight? If you seek a perpetual tan, do your research on spray on tans to find your perfect shade, and stick with a tan that is much safer but will still give you the desired effect.
We know that going out in the sun is inevitable. Taking small steps to avoid sunburns can make a world of difference when it comes to cancer prevention. The sun is strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., so be mindful of this when laying out at your favorite spot. Shade is your best friend, and splitting your time under an umbrella and your beach towel can make your experience in the sun just as enjoyable while making sure your skin gets a small reprieve from the heat. We recommend using a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher, and newborns should avoid the heat as much as possible. While we know that tanning beds are a quick and easy way to get a tan, its best to stay away from them and the harmful UV rays they give off.
Be sure to perform regular self-examinations from head to toe every month and see your physician once a year to have your skin checked by a professional. Schedule an appointment with Dr D’Andrea of University Cancer Centers to schedule your screening today!