Now that we’re able to break out from the confines of our wintry abodes, we get to enjoy more daylight. That means more time outdoors, more time at the beach, and more time in our back yards. It also means taking precautions against skin cancer.
There are several forms of the condition: melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, basal cell is the most common form of skin cancer, while melanoma is the deadliest.
As much as we love sunshine, there’s a stark reality that comes with enjoying UV rays. For some, the risk of skin cancer increases drastically, so it is important to be aware of what factors contribute to the disease.
We know that increased exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning ups the risk, as do moles. But here’s a look at other factors that heighten the risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer.
History of Sunburn
Have you burned easily since you were a child? That skin damage can follow you into adulthood and develop into skin cancer in the future. Adults who get sunburns are also at risk. That’s why it’s important to protect the skin when outdoors by wearing sunscreen, protective clothing, and hats.
Skin Cancer/Genes in the Family
If someone in your family has had skin cancer – sibling, parent, or grandparent – there is a chance that you could be affected too. Some types of skin cancer are hereditary and caused by genetic mutations. Talk with your doctor if there is a family history.
Having Fair Skin or Freckles
Fair-skinned Caucasians have a higher risk of a skin cancer diagnosis due to there being less pigment in the skin which protects from harsh UV rays. That does not mean those with darker skin are immune, as anyone can get skin cancer, but those who freckle or have less melanin are more susceptible.
Being a Redhead
We love gingers around here, but unfortunately, a genetic mutation in their DNA ups the rate of skin cancer for this group. That also goes for those with light eyes. Though it’s in the genes, it still pays to use protection from the sun.
People who live in high altitude regions that are in closer proximity to sunlight have an increased risk, as are those who fly regularly (like pilots). Extremely sunny (e.g. Florida) or mountainous areas (e.g. Denver) are also high exposure zones.
Those who have been exposed to radiation for treatment of conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, or acne could render those areas of the skin vulnerable to skin cancer.
Chemicals like arsenic and tar have been linked to increased rates of skin cancer. Additionally, there are certain medications that cause photosensitivity in the skin, and have been found to raise the risk of skin cancer.
No matter your skin tone or family history, do what you can to protect your skin from excessive exposure to UV rays. Wear sunscreen, have moles checked out, and stay out of the sun during mid-day if you are sensitive to it.
Were you aware of these skin cancer risks? Have you had a skin cancer experience? What’s the most surprising thing on this list?