Health official warns of skin cancer dangers
Two Rivers Public Health Department DirectorJeremy Eschliman joined NTV News at Noon to warn about skin cancer.
The purpose to recognize SKIN CANCER AWARENESS is to focus public attention on the protection of one of most important organs-our skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body, with a total area of about 20 square feet. The skin protects us from microbes and the elements, helps regulate body temperature, and permits the sensations of touch, heat, and cold.
- Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the US. More skin cancers are diagnosed than all other cancers combined, yet nearly all could be prevented by limiting unprotected exposure to the sun and harmful UV rays.
- Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to UV rays in sunlight.
- Skin cancer occurrence is typically related to lifetime exposure.
- The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which now refers to all UV lamps used for tanning as “sunlamps,” requires them to carry a label that states, “Attention: This sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years.” The FDA also requires that user instructions and sales materials directed at consumers (including catalogs, specification sheets, descriptive brochures, and webpages) carry the following statements:
- Contraindication: This product is contraindicated for use on persons under the age of 18 years.
- Contraindication: This product must not be used if skin lesions or open wounds are present.
- Warning: This product should not be used on individuals who have had skin cancer or have a family history of skin cancer.
- Warning: Persons repeatedly exposed to UV radiation should be regularly evaluated for skin cancer.
- Most cases of skin cancer can be treated successfully if detected early – even the most serious type, melanoma. Invasive melanoma accounts for ~1% of skin cancer cases-and it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.
Everyone’s skin and eyes can be affected by the sun and other forms of ultraviolet (UV) rays. People with light skin are much more likely to have sun damage, but darker-skinned people, including people of any ethnicity, can also be affected.
For some people, the skin tans when it absorbs UV rays. The tan is caused by an increase in the activity and number of melanocytes, the cells that make the pigment melanin. Melanin helps block out damaging UV rays up to a point, which is why people with naturally darker skin are less likely to get sunburned, while people with lighter skin are more likely to burn. Sunburns can increase your risk of skin cancer, including melanoma. But UV exposure can raise skin cancer risk even without causing sunburn.
Aside from skin tone, other factors can also affect your risk of damage from UV light. You need to be especially careful in the sun if you:
- Had skin cancer before
- Have a family history of skin cancer, especially melanoma
- Have many moles, irregular moles, or large moles Have freckles and burn before tanning
- Have fair skin, blue or green eyes, or blond, red, or light brown hair
- Live or vacation at high altitudes (the strength of UV rays increases the higher up you are)
- Live or vacation in tropical or subtropical climates
- Work indoors all week and then get intense sun exposure on weekends
- Spend a lot of time outdoors
- Have certain autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, or lupus)
- Have certain inherited conditions that increase your risk of skin cancer, such as xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) or nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome (Gorlin syndrome).
- Have a medical condition that weakens your immune system, such as infection with HIV (the virus that causes AIDS)
- Have had an organ transplant
- Take medicines that lower or suppress your immune system
- Take medicines that make your skin more sensitive to sunlight
Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you are taking any medicines that could increase your sensitivity to sunlight.
Today we know more than ever about the cumulative effects of sun damage. UV exposure comes from the sun and manmade sources like tanning beds and sun lamps. UV exposure can occur even on cloudy days.
- Prevention is s the best way to lower your risk of skin cancer. Limit exposure to the sun from peak hours of 10AM-4PM to prevent UV exposure.
- Apply sunscreen of at least 30 SPF or higher
- Broad brimmed hats
- Wrap around sunglasses
- Light colored clothing
- The Health Department encourages a holistic program of work to promote health and prevent diseases. The adoption of preventative factors in your life such as applying sun screen, wearing sun glasses, and visiting a dermatologist for abnormal skin spots serve to promote health and wellness.