Over the past few decades, the incidence of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has increased. Melanoma has become the most common cancer in women between the ages of 25 and 29. Overall, skin cancer is the most common cancer among men and women in the United States.
This trend is alarming to dermatologists who often work with public health officials to get the message out to the public in order to increase awareness of the dangers of sun exposure. “It is reaching epidemic proportions,” said Gervaise L. Gerstner, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, who practices at Park Avenue Skin Care in Manhattan, N.Y.
Certain people may be at higher risk for developing of skin cancer. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., the risk factors include:
* Family history of skin cancer
* Personal history of skin cancer
* Lighter natural skin color
* Certain physical characteristics, including lighter eye and hair color
* A history of sunburns early in life
* Consistent sun exposure through work and play
* Many pre-existing moles
In addition, researchers have revealed the hidden dangers of tanning salons, which are frequented much more often by women than men. “There is a study that shows that women who use tanning beds have a higher risk of melanoma,” Gerstner said.
The sun gives off different types of radiation in the form of UV light. Tanning salons use lights that give off the rays and can mimic natural sunlight, so the skin gets damaged in the same way.
The best way to guard against skin cancer is to limit your exposure to the sun. According to Gerstner, “You should avoid the sun’s peak hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.” Even on cloudy or rainy days, you can receive UV ray exposure.
To prevent skin damage from the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that you:
* Generously apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.