Wisdom is said to come with age and for many of us approaching middle age, part of that wisdom may include protecting skin from the damaging rays of the sun. Research and common sense both support the idea that the older we get, the higher our risk of developing skin cancer becomes.
Exposure to the UV rays of the sun is a known risk factor for developing skin cancer. UV radiation can damage the genetic coding or DNA in your skin cells. Skin cancer develops when the genes that control skin cell growth are damaged. This causes the cells to grow out of control.
Time spent out in the sun or under a tanning light causes cumulative damage to your skin. So the more time your skin spends without adequate protection from UV rays, the more damaged it becomes. That increases your risk of skin cancer.
This means that as you age, your risk of developing skin cancer automatically increases, as your skin has more opportunities to be damaged by the sun.
When you think of skin damage you probably think of sunburn. But even spending enough time in the sun to get a tan can mean that your skin has been damaged. The more times you burn or tan, and the more total exposure your skin has to UV rays, the higher your risk of skin cancer may become.
This realization, that time in the sun increases damage and cancer risks, is a relatively new idea. So many people who are middle-aged now may have deliberately spent time in the sun or a tanning bed when they were young, trying to gain the suntan that was the trend at the time.
This lack of understanding may have contributed to the overall increase in skin cancer cases in the population. One study from the Mayo Clinic shows that from 1970 to 2009, the number of people between the ages of 40 and 60 years who were first diagnosed with melanoma increased significantly.
This same research also showed that middle-aged women are more likely to get skin cancer than middle-aged men. Knowing this, some researchers have suggested that women’s increased risk as they age may be affected by hormonal changes as they go through menopause.Read more in Your Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Skin