Sunday, August 5, 2012

What You Don't Know Can Give You Skin Cancer

Today the local paper carried a story about fish getting skin cancer. I think that is a fine example of the risk that humans have for skin cancer. If fish are getting malignant melanomas, then we are at worse risk than the fish for getting the same thing. A lot of people don't know this.

I spoke to an intelligent person today who had no clue about the risk she ran for getting skin cancer. We live in Alaska. Probably the only place that is worse for getting skin cancer is Australia. She and others like her need to know this.

We need to use information to protect ourselves from the disasters we can avoid. I am going to explain the basics about our risk for skin cancer because of climate change.

The sun gives off ultraviolet rays that reach us on the earth. Some ultraviolet light is good for us. Too much is bad for us. 

A little bit of ultraviolet light helps our bodies make vitamin D. It can also give us a pretty tan. I think staying in one piece is much better than a tan. It also feels good.

The earth has something in our atmosphere called an ozone layer. This is part of the invisible air up in our sky. Even though we can't see the ozone layer it is very important. 

The ozone layer acts as a shield and bounces part of the ultraviolet light back out into space. This keeps down the amount of ultraviolet light that reaches the earth, and us.

Since humans began making lots of pollution, the pollution has caused problems with our ozone layer. Our pollution has made the ozone layer thinner. This means the ozone layer does not protect us as much as when it was thicker.

Since the ozone layer has gotten thinner more people have been getting skin cancer than ever before. People who never had to worry about skin cancer get it now. These people are dark skinned people and younger people. Everyone has to think about protection from skin cancer now.

There are three areas of the earth that have higher risks of skin cancer for the people living in them. These places are: the Arctic and areas close to it, the Antarctic and areas close to it, and the equator and places close to it. 

The Arctic and the Antarctic are more risky for skin cancer because large holes have gone all the way through the ozone layer over them. When one of these holes moves over you, there is no protection at all from ultraviolet light. You get the full dose of UV light, and that is too much for us. 

The equator is more risky for skin cancer because more sunlight reaches it and you, if you live along the equator or near it.

Even if you don't live in one of the worst areas for skin cancer because of damage to our ozone layer, you still need to be careful. You are getting more ultraviolet light anyway. If you are outdoors much you need to be careful to avoid unnecessary exposure to UV light to keep down your chances of getting skin cancer.

I already posted about what you need to do to lower your exposure to UV light. Please read that or on another site, so you will know what to do to lower your skin cancer risk.

When you get skin cancer, it needs to be cut out of your skin. They need to make sure they get it all out so it does not keep spreading. This can leave you with a big, ugly crater in your skin as well as scars. I'll stay pasty white instead of the craters, thank you.

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