Skin Cancer: The Mistakes We Make

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Melanoma is the worst kind of skin cancer, and too much exposure to the sun can make you more susceptible to getting it – no matter who are you.

Dr. John Sowell, who’s with Dermatology Associates in Huntsville, provided us with a good amount of helpful information about the disease.  

He says, “In general, people who get melanoma, classically are people who are fair-complected – blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes.  We see melanoma in all skin types, though.  Even African-Americans can get melanoma, Hispanics and Asians – any skin type. So nobody’s immune. The more easily you sunburn though, the more likely you are to get melanoma.”

While race may not matter, believe it or not, whether you’re a man or a woman does.

“Men get melanoma primarily on the back, shoulders, upper body.  Women get it on the legs, classically behind the knees is the most common location,” says Sowell.

To all of you youngsters who like spending time on the beach and climbing into a tanning bed, while it may make you look good now – you could be paying the price later.

“People tend to make the worst decisions when they’re in their teens, and that’s when UV light is most prone to cause melanoma.  You get a sunburn or tanning bed use in your mid-late teens, and you get melanoma in your 30s as a result.”

Not to mention, tanning beds can be much more harmful.

Sowell goes on to say, “We’re seeing more and more melanoma in tanning bed use, at a much younger age as well.  We didn’t know 30 years ago that tanning beds are actually worse than sunlight at causing melanoma.”

Also, don’t think for one second that just because you can’t see the sun that you’re safe from ultra violet rays.

“Ultra-violet comes right through the clouds, so clouds are no protection at all.  Even sitting in the shade under a canopy on a cloudy day you get some reflected UV as well.  So even under a canopy at the beach you still need some sunscreen.”

So if you’re looking forward to laying in the hot sun this summer, just be cool about how you do it.

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