Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Preventable Skin Cancer Epidemic

There is an epidemic going on right now that most people do not even notice. It is skin cancer. Children who grow up exposed to more UVA and UVB rays for their entire life have a much greater chance of getting skin cancer in their lifetimes. That does not mean the rest of us are not at risk, it is just a little lower than for children.

This epidemic of skin cancer is happening all over the world and affects dark-skinned people as well as pale-skinned people. The worst part about it is that it does not have to be so bad.

Preventive measures can greatly lower your risk of getting skin cancer. The simplest and most obvious prevention for skin cancer is to cover up when you go out in the sun. This means wearing a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and covering your legs. There should be sun block on any skin not covered.

Your sunglasses should block 100% of UVA and UVB rays from reaching your eyes. They should wrap around or have shields to prevent UVA  and UVB from reaching you around the sides, bottom and top of the lenses.

Skin specialists recommend that people stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 am. to 4 pm. It is suggested that you wear a sun block, reapplying it frequently. An SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, of 15 or higher used to be recommended. It seems to have gone up lately. SPF goes up as high as 110.

There seems to be disagreement among experts as to the safety of some kinds of sun blocks. Some are believed to cause blocked pores, resulting in acne, blackheads, etc. The chemicals in some kinds of sun block are questioned by some people. Acne is not as bad as skin cancer. Read up on what kind of sun block you like the best and use it.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control -they handle epidemics), and the National Cancer Society did a study that shows there is an epidemic of cancer among young adults. This is due mostly to lack of protection from sunburn and sun exposure and use of tanning beds. The World Health Organization declared tanning devices to be carcinogenic (they cause cancer).

What good will it do to be prepared for emergencies if you die of malignant melanoma or have to have cancers cut off of you all the time? My father did not even use a tanning bed, and he has dark skin. He had over 150 skin cancers cut off of his face and neck. Younger people can expect worse than that.

I could not resist sharing a Saturday Night Live skit about "the tanning mom".

Here is a link to the CDC site about skin cancer:

The information above does not take into account the holes in the ozone layers above the Arctic and Antarctic areas. When one of the holes in the ozone layer passes over areas where people live, the rate of skin cancer skyrockets.

Australia is currently dealing with a very high rate of skin cancer due to having the Antarctic hole in the ozone layer above their country so much of the time. 

Australia schools will not allow children to attend schools unless they come to school wearing hats, sunglasses and long sleeves and have their legs covered. The USA and other countries should follow their good example.

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