Summer is in full swing, which means many of us are in full sun-worship mode. Given the gorgeous sunny weather that most of the country is having these days, it’s probably safe to say that no one is suffering from any Vitamin D deficiencies any time soon. As wonderful as the sun feels, and as great as a daily dose of Vitamin D is, however, it still pays to be safe when it comes to sun-exposure. Make sure you’re taking necessary precautions to protect you and your family from overexposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays, as it can lead to potential melanoma or skin cancer, as well as premature aging.
- Skin Cancer #1: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually, with each year having more new cases of skin cancer than the incidents of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers combined. Further, over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.
- Melanoma: Melanoma accounts for less than five percent of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths. One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes). About 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and about 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. The incidents of many common cancers is falling, but the incidents of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers. Between 1992 and 2004, melanoma incidents increased 45 percent, or 3.1 percent annually.
- Your Risk: 20 percent of Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime, with 1 in 55 people receiving a diagnosis of melanoma during their lifetime. Nearly 800,000 Americans are living with a history of melanoma and 13 million are living with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, typically diagnosed as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma. One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life and a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age. Survivors of melanoma are about nine times as likely as the general population to develop a new melanoma.
- Gender Bias: The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50, with one in 39 Caucasian men and one in 58 Caucasian women developing melanoma in their lifetimes. Approximately 39,000 new cases of melanoma occur in men each year in the US, and 29,000 in women. Approximately 5,700 deaths from melanoma occur in men each year in the US, and 3,000 in women. Until age 39, women are almost twice as likely to develop melanoma as men. Starting at age 40, melanoma incidence in men exceeds incidence in women, and this trend becomes more pronounced with each decade.
- Fake Baking: The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health Organization, includes ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices in its Group 1, a list of the most dangerous cancer-causing substances.Group 1 also includes agents such as plutonium, cigarettes, and solar UV radiation. Indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors. People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
Have you had skin cancer? What do you do to protect yourself from the sun’s rays?