Increased Car Time Puts People at Risk for Skin Cancer

The time spent traveling in the car puts drivers at risk for skin cancer. The first ever in vitro study showing that window film on glass protects against photoaging, skin cancer and ocular damage was presented this spring by Eric R. Bernstein, M.D., at the annual meeting of American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery. The in vitro testing of glass fitted with LLumar UVShield window film reduced transmitted radiation of all UVA and UVB frequencies by 99.6 percent.

UVA rays can easily penetrate car windows, making both drivers and passengers susceptible to skin damage and skin cancer. This is especially significant since car travel is at an all time high. Nearly 10 million American commuters now spend more than an hour driving to work each day - up 50 percent from 1990.  And, 3.4 million of those 10 million people travel more than 90 minutes one way. With more than 90% of all skin cancers caused by sun exposure, these so-called "extreme commuters" need to take special precautions to protect themselves while driving.

"Most people do not realize their skin is not fully protected when they are behind glass," said William Morsion, MD, Chairman of The Skin Cancer Foundation's Photobiology Committee. "UV-protective film is an effective way to reduce exposure to rays while driving."

UVA rays penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and has long been thought to play a major part in skin aging and wrinkling. However, recent studies strongly suggest that it may also initiate and exacerbate the development of skin cancers. UVA rays are present during all daylight hours and throughout the winter months. Thus, we are exposed to large doses of UVA throughout our lifetime.

Babies and children are especially at risk because they sit in the back in car seats where none of the glass offers UVA protection. "This is especially alarming because young skin is even more vulnerable to sun damage," said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundatin. "Just one blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life."

Professional installation of UV-protective films is usually required. Look in the yellow pages under "glass tinting" or "glass coatings" for a dealer near you. Laws on auto glass are based on visible light transmission and vary from state-to-state. UV-blocking window film is clear and legal in all 50 states. Llumar UV Shield, 3M Consumer and Panorama all carry the Foundation's Seal of Recommendation which ensures that a sun protection product is safe and effective. For more information about the Seal, visit www.skincancer.org.

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global nonprofit organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of The Skin Cancer Foundation is to reduce the incidence of skin cancer through the promotion of prevention, early detection, and effective treatment of skin cancer. For more information about the Foundation, call 1-800-SKIN-490.