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Skin cancer rates among young girls reaching epidemic proportions.

By Medisys on March 27 2018 | Dr. Vivien Brown

Tanned skin is damaged skin. Period. 

The incidence of melanoma among children, adolescents, and young adults has reached epidemic proportions, increasing more than 250% over the past 4 decades, with young females at highest risk for the deadly cancer, according to a study by researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma is the most common cancer for young adults aged 25 to 29 and the second most common form of cancer for people aged 15 to 29. 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada. It is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Here are a few stats from the Canadian skin cancer foundation:

  • One in every three cancers diagnosed worldwide is a skin cancer, 80-90% of which are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
  • Over 80,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in Canada each year. 
  • Canadians born in the 1990s have two to three times higher lifetime risk of getting skin cancer (1 in 6) than those born in the 1960s (1 in 20).
  • There are more new cases of skin cancer each year than the number of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancers COMBINED!
  • Melanoma is the most common and deadliest form of cancer in young people between the ages of 15 and 29.

  • Using a tanning bed before the age of thirty-five increases your risk of developing skin cancer by 75 per cent.

  • UV rays from tanning beds can be five times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.

  • Tanned skin is damaged skin. Period. Even when the tan fades, the damage is still there.

Skin cancer is caused by overexposure of the skin to UV radiation. The most common sources of UV radiation on the skin are the sun and artificial tanning beds. Though skin cancer is preventable and most often treatable, it remains the most common form of cancer.

A "good tan", especially among young people is associated with attractiveness and looking youthful and healthy, but in reality there is no such thing as a "healthy tan". Using tanning beds, bathing in the sun, and getting a sun burn - especially in childhood - can lead to skin cancer in later years.

 

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While it’s wonderful to feel the warmth of the summer sun and enjoy the outdoors sun there are also risks. Here are a few ways to protect you from the Skin Cancer Foundation

  • The sun is most intense between 10 AM and 4 PM –so seek the shade between those hours.
  • Do not burn.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens can be used on babies if needed, over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
  • If you are a beach goer, remember the intensity of sun exposure is elevated. Both water and sand can reflect up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, however, beach and pool activities can be enjoyed safely as long as people take some extra precautions if f you use plenty of sunscreen
  • For effective ultraviolent A (UVA) radiation protection, select products that have some combination of the following ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. MexorylTM), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

Everyday sun exposure counts. Protect yourself year-round. 

While we mostly think about protecting ourselves against the sun during the summer months, protection should be year round to reduce your lifetime sun exposure. So make putting on sunscreen a daily habit.

How do you know if there is a problem?

The warning signs of skin melanoma are often called the A B C D E’s of melanoma and include:

  • A for asymmetry: The two halves of the mole do not match.
  • B for border irregularity: The borders of the mole are fuzzy and irregular rather than sharp.
  • C is for color variegation: In addition to brown or black, other colors are present.
  • D is for diameter: The size of the mole is bigger than the size of the eraser on your pencil (0.6 cm or about ¼ of an inch).
  • E is for evolving: The mole has changed in size, shape or color.

 

 

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