Skin cancer caused by excessive sun exposure is the #1 cancer in the U.S. Of the several kinds of skin cancer, melanoma is the most dangerous. The potential for life threatening disease is related to the thickness of the cancer and not its diameter. So a very small melanoma that is slightly thicker (extends deeper into the skin) can be much more dangerous than one which is less thick but has a greater diameter.
Some facts about melanoma include:*
– One person dies of melanoma every hour (every 62 minutes)
– One in 55 people will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
– Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
– The vast majority of mutations found in melanoma are caused by ultraviolet radiation.
– The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the incidence of melanoma continues to rise at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers.
– An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US in 2011 with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.
– Women aged 39 and under have a higher probability of developing melanoma than any other cancer except breast cancer.
– About 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
– One or more blistering sunburns in childhood or adolescence more than double a person’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
– A person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.
According to the EPA up to 90 percent of the visible changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. (http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvandhealth.html)
The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from unnecessary risk of skin cancer (epecially melanoma) is to use a good sunscreen that provides BOTH UVA and UVB protection. SPF ratings apply to UVA protection only and do not address UVB. Sunscreens utilizing Zinc Oxide (such as Z Blok) are the only ones that provide complete UVA and UVB protection.
* Adapted from www.skincancer.org