Reduce sun exposure
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.
Here are the facts:
- Sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation that can damage DNA and cause skin cancer.
- 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.
- Each year melanoma, a dangerous type of skin cancer, kills more than 8,000 Americans.
- Reducing childhood exposure to sunlight could lower the risk of developing skin cancer by 70%.
Develop healthy sun safety habits. Use SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and limit your sun exposure during peak hours of 10 AM and 4 PM.
Healthy Sun Safety Habits
- Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 AM to 4 PM when UV radiation is highest.
- Use physical barriers like umbrellas or trees to provide shade and block the sun.
- Wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants.
Choose (and Use!) the Right Sunscreen
- Some sunscreens contain ingredients that may be toxic. These include endocrine disruptors such as oxybenzone and parabens that, in some studies, have been linked to cancer and other health effects.
- Check the label! Choose sunscreens with 9% zinc oxide or titanium dioxide micronized which offer protection against UVA and UVB rays.
- A minimum of SPF 15 is required to protect against UV radiation.
- Use one ounce (the size of a shot glass) of sunscreen per application. Be sure to reapply every 2-4 hours and after swimming and exercise.
- Apply your sunscreen at least 30 minutes before going outside so it has time to absorb.
- Wear sunscreen daily. You can still be exposed to UV radiation on cloudy days.
- If you practice sun safety from an early age, you can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Tanning beds are NOT A SAFE ALTERNATIVE! The use of tanning beds before age 30 is associated with a 75% increase in melanoma risk.
Get More information:
Abdulla FR, Feldman SR, Williford PM, Krowchuk D, Kaur M. Tanning and skin cancer. Pediatric Dermatology. 2005. 22(6): 501-512.
The purpose of this review is to familiarize pediatricians with the magnitude of the skin cancer problem and the evidence that ultraviolet light exposure, particularly indoor tanning, contributes to this problem.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2006/2007 Skin Cancer Prevention and Education Initiative and Fact Sheet. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/skin/
This booklet contains information on causes and ways to prevent skin cancer. You will find information about symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. You will also learn how to do a skin self-exam.
Cummins DL, Cummins JM, Pantle H, Silverman MA, Leonard AL, Chanmugam, A. Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma. Mayo Clin. Proc. 2006. 81(4): 500-507.
Skin cancer has become the most common neoplasm in the United States. With early diagnosis and appropriate management, most skin cancers have an overall 5-year survival rate of 95%. Cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM), however, has a significantly higher morbidity and mortality, resulting in 65% of all skin cancer deaths. Although the long-term survival rate for patients with metastatic melanoma is only 5%, early detection of CMM carries an excellent prognosis, with surgical excision often being curative. Primary care physicians can play a critical role in reducing morbidity and mortality from CMM by recognizing patients at risk, encouraging the adoption of risk-reducing behaviors, and becoming adept at identifying suspicious lesions.
Gawkrodger DJ. Occupational skin cancers. Occupational Medicine. 2004. 54: 458-463.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2006/2007 Skin Cancer Prevention and Education Initiative Fact Sheet. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/
This website provides basic information about skin cancer.
Geller AC, Colditz G, Oliveria S, Emmons K, Jorgensen C, Aweh GN, Frazier L. Use of sunscreen, sunburning rates, and tanning bed use among more than 10,000 US children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2002. 109: 1009-1014.
The authors’ findings suggest that many children are at subsequent risk of skin cancer because of suboptimal sunscreen use, high rates of sunburning, and tanning bed use.
Jemal A, Siegel R, Ward E, Murray T, Xu J, Thun MJ. Cancer statistics, 2007. CA Cancer J. Clin. 2007. 57: 43-66.
This report also examines cancer incidence, mortality, and survival by site, sex, race/ethnicity, geographic area, and calendar year, as well as the proportionate contribution of selected sites to the overall trends.
Markovic SN, et al. Malignant melanoma in the 21st century, part 1: epidemiology, risk factors, screening, prevention, and diagnosis. Mayo. Clin. Proc. 2007. 82(3): 364-380.
Malignant melanoma is an aggressive, therapy-resistant malignancy of melanocytes. The incidence of melanoma has been steadily increasing worldwide, resulting in an increasing public health problem. Exposure to solar UV radiation, fair skin, dysplastic nevi syndrome, and a family history of melanoma are major risk factors for melanoma development.
Nash JF. Human Safety and efficacy of ultraviolet filters and sunscreen products. Dermatol. Clin. 2006. 35-51.
Ultraviolet (UV) filters are the active ingredients in sunscreens. The concentration and combination of UV filters determine the efficacy of sunscreens as measured by sun protection factor. The safety of individual UV filters, and, more generally, sunscreen products, is a matter of a few related components: objective toxicologic evaluation, phototoxicologic potential, and human health consequences of using products that may reduce some but not all of the solar UV.
National Institutes of Health. What You Need to Know About Skin Cancer; 2005. NIH Publication No. 05-1564. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancerinfo/wyntk/skin/
This National Cancer Institute (NCI) booklet has important information about skin cancer.
Rees JL. The genetics of sun sensitivity in humans. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 2004. 75: 739-751.
Humans vary >100-fold in their sensitivity to the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. The main determinants of sensitivity are melanin pigmentation and less-well-characterized differences in skin inflammation and repair processes.
Ward EM, Burnett CA, Ruder A, Davis-King K. Industries and cancer. Cancer Causes and Control. 1997. 8: 356-370.
This article focuses on several industries which have not been covered elsewhere in this volume, briefly describe current research on cancer in the agricultural and construction industries, and discuss surveillance data on cancer mortality in relation to industry listed on US death certificates.
Contact the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org) for updated information and evidence-based resources.