The greatest risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices.
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The greatest risk factor for skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and indoor tanning devices. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, “UV radiation is a proven human carcinogen, and the leading cause of skin cancer.” UV radiation damages the DNA in skin cells, which can lead to mutations and the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells.
There are several interesting facts to consider when it comes to skin cancer and UV radiation:
UV radiation is not just a concern during the summer months or at the beach. It can be present year-round and can penetrate clouds, glass, and some clothing.
The risk of skin cancer increases with the number of sunburns a person has experienced. A single severe sunburn in childhood or adolescence can double a person’s risk of developing melanoma later in life.
People with fair skin, light-colored eyes, and a tendency to Freckle or burn easily are at higher risk for skin cancer.
Indoor tanning devices, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, also emit UV radiation and have been classified as human carcinogens by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Clothing that covers the skin can provide some protection from UV radiation, but not all fabrics are created equal. Tight-knit or dark-colored fabrics tend to offer more protection than loose, light-colored ones.
A helpful way to understand the different types of skin cancer and their characteristics is with a table:
|Type of Skin Cancer||Characteristics|
|Basal Cell Carcinoma||Most common form; slow-growing, rarely spreads|
|Squamous Cell Carcinoma||Second most common; can spread to other parts of the body|
|Melanoma||Most dangerous; spreads quickly if not detected early|
In the words of actress and skin cancer survivor Marcia Cross, “Skin cancer is not just a cosmetic issue. It is a complex disease that can be life-threatening if not detected early and treated properly.” Protecting our skin from UV radiation through sun-protective clothing, sunscreen, and limiting exposure during peak hours can all help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.
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The major risk factors for melanoma, as explained by the speaker, include sun exposure, genetics, and certain physical characteristics such as pale complexion, freckles, blue eyes, and blonde hair. A study was conducted to gather a mailing list of individuals with green and blue eyes in Los Angeles, which is considered a risk factor for melanoma. This at-risk population was selected using questionnaires sent to individuals who had given permission and had a driver’s license listing their eye color, and was identified as the population at highest risk for melanoma.
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Most skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. This may be long term exposure, or short periods of intense sun exposure and burning. The ultraviolet light in sunlight damages the DNA in the skin cells.
Older age. Regardless of whether you have any of the risk factors listed above, reducing your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays can help keep your skin healthy and lower your chances of getting skin cancer in the future. Most people get at least some UV exposure from the sun when they spend time outdoors.
Risk factors for all types of skin cancer include skin that burns easily; blond or red hair; a history of excessive sun exposure, including sunburns; tanning bed use; immune system-suppressing diseases or treatments; and a history of skin cancer. Remember, anyone can get skin cancer.
A change on the skin is the most common sign of skin cancer. This may be any new growth on the skin, a sore that doesn’t heal, or a change in an old growth. Skin cancer can look like a thick and jagged scar. It can look like a dark (or black) bump. The bump may seem waxy or shiny. It can look like a smooth, waxy bump or a firm red lump.
Sun exposure accounts for 70% of skin cancers, posing the greatest risk factor. Squamous cell carcinoma, however, is the type most closely tied to sun exposure.
People who have already had a skin cancer have a greater risk of getting another one compared to someone who hasn’t had one. Researchers think this is most likely because of sun exposure. You should cover up in the sun and look out for any signs of another skin cancer.