Skin Cancer Risk Factors
Living in sunny South Florida puts you at an increased risk of developing
skin cancer. It’s important to know your risk and take steps to
prevent skin cancer.
You are at an increased risk if you have:
- A lighter natural skin color
- Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun
- Blue or green eyes
- Blond or red hair
- Certain types and a large number of moles
- A family history of skin cancer
- A personal history of skin cancer
- Older age
UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including
melanoma. There are steps you can take to protect your skin from harmful UV rays:
Seek shade. Remember that the sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and
2 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
Wear protective clothing. This means wearing a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and
sunglasses, when possible.
Apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Broad spectrum sunscreen provides protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Use sunscreen whenever you are outdoors, even on a cloudy day. Apply enough
sunscreen to cover all areas not covered by clothing. To fully cover your
body, you will need about 1 ounce of sunscreen. Make sure you apply to
the tops of your feet, your neck, ears and the top of your head.
Take care around water, snow, and sand. These reflect and intensify the sun’s damaging rays.
Avoid tanning beds. UV light from tanning beds can cause skin cancer and early skin aging.
Consider using a self-tanning product if you want to look tan, this does not replace the use of sunscreen so
continue to use sunscreen with it.
Check your own skin. Check your skin on a regular basis and note any changes in moles, as well
as skin growths and any new abnormalities.
- See a dermatologist once a year.
Indoor tanning exposes users to high levels of UV radiation for the purpose
of getting a tan. They are not safer than the sun, just one indoor tanning
session can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Women who tan
indoors before they turn 30 are 6 times more likely to develop melanoma,
the deadliest form of skin cancer. It also dramatically speeds up how
quickly your skin ages.
When UV rays reach the skin’s inner layer, the skin makes more melanin.
Melanin is the pigment that colors the skin. It moves toward the outer layers
of the skin and becomes visible as a tan.
A tan does not indicate good health. A tan is your skin’s response to injury, because skin cells signal
that they have been hurt by UV rays by producing more pigment. Any change
in skin color after UV exposure (whether it is a tan or a burn) is a sign
of injury, not health. Over time, too much exposure to UV rays can cause
skin cancers including melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), basal
cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.
Every time you tan, you increase your risk of getting skin cancer.