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Despite Repeat Warnings, Skin Cancer Continues to Rise Among Women

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Do you intend on getting a healthy tan this summer? You may want to rethink your plans. Tan skin is the body’s reaction to sun damage, along with freckles, wrinkles and brown spots. So unless your tan comes from a bottle, it’s probably not healthy.

More than one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year, according to the American Cancer Society. And despite the countless public service announcements and media messages, the numbers continue to rise.

According to recent studies by both the American Academy of Dermatology and British Association of Dermatologists, people in their teens and early twenties are less likely than any other age group to use sun protection, despite the increasing risk among this demographic.

Many young people ignore the risk because they don’t see the detrimental effects of the sun right away. Skin cancer often does not show up immediately. “Most skin cancers take years of cumulative sun exposure to form and reflect sun-worshipping behaviors of years past,” says Tanya Futoryan, MD, medical director of the Westport Dermatology and Laser Center in Westport, Conn.

And it’s not just young people who suffer the negative effects of the sun. It’s only been over the last two decades that we’ve learned, as a society, about the dangers of the sun. Millions of women who spent their childhoods basking in the sun are suffering the consequences as well.

“Although we are better educated now on sun protection, it takes a long time to adapt sunscreen use and sun avoidance into our every day lives,” says Futoryan. “Every new generation has to be convinced of the dangers of sun damage.”

There are three major types of skin cancer. Bad sunburns, which include blistering, increase a person’s risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer. Long-term exposure to the sun increases the risk of all types of skin cancer, including the less serious types: basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinoma.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Thank you, Society for Women's Health Research for this article.

I also wanted to add that although women who are fair skinned, blonde or red headed, and have freckles are more likely to develop skin cancer, this does not mean that dark skinned women cannot get it as well. The chances decrease but they do not go away entirely.

Depending on what part of the US some people live in, the sun can be more damaging than in other states. I live in Florida and at the moment, going outside feels like you're walking into a hot steam room.

I can hardly stand being outside for 10 minutes let alone willingly sit there for hours.

July 24, 2009 - 11:23am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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