cancer reaching epidemic status
Newswise ó The statistics on skin cancer
should make you grab the sun screen and a hat before you head
outdoors, or perhaps cancel that appointment at the tanning salon.
The April issue of Mayo
Clinic Health Letter covers the facts about the prevalence
of skin cancer, including:
Half of all new cancers in the
United States are skin cancers.
One in five Americans will develop
skin cancer. Your chances of getting skin cancer double if you have
had five or more sunburns.
The American Academy of
Dermatology has labeled skin cancer an unrecognized epidemic.
Generally, your risk of developing
skin cancer increases as you age because the effects of sun damage
accumulate over time. Until recently, the more treatable
non-melanoma skin cancers were considered a problem for people over
age 50. However, the occurrence of these cancers in younger adults
has increased sharply.
Mayo Clinic researchers have
documented the increase by tracking skin cancer incidence in adults
under age 40 in southern Minnesota. Between 1976 and 2003, the
incidence of basal cell skin cancers -- a non-melanoma skin cancer
-- roughly tripled in women, to more than 30 women per 100,000. The
rate slightly increased among men, from about 23 to nearly 27 per
Typically, 90 percent of
non-melanoma cancers develop on sun-exposed skin such as the head
and neck. In the Mayo Clinic study, only 60 percent of the cancers
were found on sun-exposed skin, leading to the suspicion that visits
to the tanning booth might account for those cancers.
When you head outdoors, slather on
the sunscreen to block the sunís ultraviolet radiation exposure. Use
generous amounts -- 1 ounce, or about the amount in a shot glass --
to protect your skin from the sunís rays. Apply sunscreen about 30
minutes before you go out and reapply every two hours. Wear
protective clothing, a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses.
As for tanning beds, think of them
as high-dose UVA machines. Theyíre dangerous because occasional yet
intense UVA exposure poses a greater risk of melanoma skin cancer
than does spending long hours in the sun.