If you are like me, you’ll agree there is nothing quite like taking in some rays in the great outdoors. I’ll be the first to admit I can’t resist a day at the beach, but recently some disturbing news has made me more aware of protecting my skin.
The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention and its member partner, American Cancer Society, report skin cancer is on the rise in the U.S, especially among 15- to 34-year-olds. Reports from British news echo those findings, calling skin cancer “the most common cancer diagnosis for young people.”
What was once considered a middle-aged or older person’s plight, malignant melanoma – the most dangerous type of skin cancer – has seen the number of diagnosed cases in young people double in the last 20 years.
The Environmental Protection Agency reports the 10 states with the highest number of new melanoma cases are Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
Many people believe they will jumpstart their tan by burning their skin, but this may be a recipe for disaster later on, says Dr. Jodie Moffatt, of Cancer Research UK.
"Getting a painful sunburn just once every two years can triple your chances of getting skin cancer," Moffatt says. “Damage that you do now increases your chances of getting cancer in 20 or so years time.”
Sadly, American Cancer Society estimates that one person in the U.S. dies every hour from skin cancer. It is estimated that this year 62,480 cases of malignant melanoma and more than one million cases of basal cell or squamous skin cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S.
Of course, skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet or UV radiation, but who can blame us? A tanned appearance has become a sign of good health and status, fueling the increasing trends of sunbathing and use of tanning beds among young adults and women.
For a healthier approach, we might consider using a sunless self-tanning product and continuing to apply sunscreen to greatly reduce our skin cancer risk but maintain a blissful, sun-kissed appearance.