Year-Round Sun Exposure Explained
September 9, 2010 (New York, NY) - More than 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with the sun, which emits cancer-causing ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Sun damage doesn't just occur during the summer. The risk of skin cancer is present throughout the year.
"It's not just the sunburns that usually occur during the summer or on vacation that are associated with skin cancer," said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. "All of your lifetime sun exposure adds to your risk of skin cancer."
Intense, Intermittent Sun Exposure
Intense, intermittent sun exposure is a pattern of periodic concentrated UV exposure that severely damages the skin and may lead to melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer. For example, you might receive intense sun exposure during a tropical vacation after spending many months indoors; or on an October day spent outdoors, raking leaves or at a football game.
One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life. Approximately 68,720 melanomas will be diagnosed this year in the U.S., with nearly 8,650 resulting in death.
Intense, intermittent sun exposure also plays a part in basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer, which affects more than two million Americans each year.
Incidental Sun Exposure
This is the kind of sun exposure that you are barely aware of, which accumulates over the years from relatively brief everyday activities. For example, individuals are exposed to the sun when walking dogs, waiting for the bus, or walking to and from the car. Everyday incidental exposure adds up and seriously damages the skin over time.
Cumulative, incidental sun exposure is linked to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common skin cancer. An estimated 700,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the US, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths.
Incidental sun exposure also contributes to basal cell carcinoma. Among Caucasians, almost all basal cell carcinomas occur on parts of the body subject to chronic sun exposure - especially the face, ears, neck, scalp, shoulders, and back. BCCs are rarely fatal, but can be highly disfiguring if allowed to grow.
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone develop a year-round sun protection regimen to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Clothing can be your most effective form of protection, so make the most of it by wearing densely woven and bright- or dark- colored fabrics, which offer the best defense. The more skin you cover, the better, so choose long sleeves and long pants whenever possible. Denim is never out of style, and dark blue jeans effectively screen out sunlight.
Hats are in style this autumn, for both men and women. Be fashionable and sensible- invest in a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses that block ultraviolet (UV) radiation, to prevent skin damage on the head and neck.
Also seek the shade when you are outside. Finally, applying sunscreen with a 15+ SPF (Sun Protection Factor) every day can help reduce your risk of skin cancer as well.
Summer's end is a good time to go to the dermatologist for an annual skin exam. Most skin cancers are 100 percent curable when caught early. Take time to thoroughly examine your skin from head-to-toe every month.
Protect yourself from the sun, no matter what the season. For more information, please visit www.SkinCancer.org.
About The Skin Cancer Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit www.SkinCancer.org.