Thursday, July 24, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine Meet Little Miss Melanoma

by Leane Scoz

Awwww, summertime! Whether at the beach, the pool, the park, or backyard, you are bound to come in contact with Earth's big, round, yellow friend in the sky...the sun. But, the way the encounter is handled varies greatly from person to person.

Some people welcome the warm rays from the sun and choose to apply little or no sunscreen at all. Others are deathly afraid of the consequences of the powerful rays and head to the store for a floppy hat and SPF 60. Many others choose to have their cake and eat it too by applying a mid-range SPF in hopes of tanning instead of burning. However, new research should make everyone want to run toward the nearest shade.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, government cancer statistics revealed the rate of new melanoma cases among younger women jumped 50 percent since 1980. The American Cancer Society reports about 62,000 melanoma cases are diagnosed each year in the United States, with more than 8,400 people dying from the disease. What has caused such a large increase?

National Cancer Institute researchers who led the analysis believe a number of risk factors have contributed to the rise in cases. Stronger rays from the sun are a direct result from the thinning ozone layer and increase in greenhouse gas emissions. People are spending a lot more time outdoors and are not protecting themselves against ultraviolet radiation. Young women are frequently engaging in indoor tanning (tanning bed) use in larger numbers. Researchers also noted that increased awareness, public education campaigns, and better diagnosis may have also played a role in the larger number of reported cases.

So, what's a pale-skinned gal to do? First, remember that ultraviolet radiation is dangerous and a carcinogen. Limit the amount of time spent in the sun. Always use sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater). Get your skin checked at least once a year. And, lastly feel good knowing that you will look much younger and wrinkle-free in your golden years than your sunbathing beauty counterparts who will have acquired leathery skin that matches their handbags and more wrinkles than a Shar-pei puppy.

No comments: