Take Care When You ‘Bare’: UV Exposure Raises Skin Cancer Risk

by Thilaka Ravi on  May 27, 2008 at 3:58 PM Environmental Health
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Take Care When You ‘Bare’: UV Exposure Raises Skin Cancer Risk
The onset of summer will see more people outdoors playing, swimming, fishing or sun bathing.

However, doctors warn that exposing the skin too much to the sun's rays without proper precautions may lead to an increased risk of skin cancer.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year.

About 62,480 people in the US will be diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, in 2008.

Changes in size, shape or color of an existing mole or skin growth, or the appearance of a new growth on the skin can be warning signs of the onset of melanoma.

There has been a dramatic spurt of almost 700 percent increase in the incidence of melanoma between 1950 and 2001. According to doctors, an estimated 8,000 people will die from melanoma this year.

There has also been a sharp increase in rates of the less serious forms of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

"As adults, we should receive regular skin exams by our medical provider, perform monthly self-skin exams and watch skin growths on our children," said Secretary of Health and State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

Farmers, ranchers, construction workers and others who spend most of the day working outside in the sun, are at high risk of skin cancer, especially if they don't use sun protection on a regular basis. Moreover, a new study suggests they may be in the group that is least likely to get screened for skin cancer.

Health experts advise everyone to take the following steps to protect themselves against dangerous UV rays:

• Thoroughly apply water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, 20 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun.  Continue to apply sunscreen every two hours, even on cloudy days, and after swimming or sweating.

• Stay away from the sun as much as you can between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun's rays are most intense.

• Wear clothing that covers up as much of your skin as possible.  If you can see light through your clothing, the UV rays from the sun can penetrate. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

• Be extra careful near water, snow and sand.

• Avoid tanning beds.

• Check your skin regularly for any new warning signs. If you notice anything changing, growing or bleeding on your skin, consult a dermatologist.

Source: Medindia

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