Did you know melanoma – the most common and deadliest form of skin cancer – is linked to excessive sun exposure during childhood? Studies indicate that as few as four severe sunburns before age 16 greatly can increase the risk of melanoma in later life.
The number of reported cases of melanoma is rising in epidemic proportions, says oncologist Leonard Sender, M.D., Medical Director of the CHOC Cancer Institute. The disease is being increasingly diagnosed in younger adults. Given the popularity of tanning among young people, it is important that parents educate their children about too much exposure to the sun and the effects of tanning beds.
A new study from the University of Minnesota, featured on the American Cancer Society’s website, found that people who use tanning beds are more likely to develop melanoma, than those who don’t. The study also found that the risk of getting melanoma is associated more with how much a person tans and not the age at which a person starts using tanning devices. Risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender, or device.
Fortunately, there’s quite a lot you can do about it. Sunscreen is very important, but it does not completely protect your child from the sun. To fully protect your child, long sleeves, pants, sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat are a must. Try to avoid outdoor activities between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., the brightest part of the day.
Also, Dr. Sender advises parents to make sunscreen a morning habit, rain or shine, every day of the year. Apply it liberally to the face, top of the ears, back of the neck, and then to any other parts of the body that will be exposed. At the beach or the pool, reapply sunscreen whenever your child comes out of the water. For more sun safety tips, click here: http://www.choc.org/community/index.cfm?id=P00374
To learn more about CHOC Children’s Cancer Institute, click here: http://www.choc.org/cancer/index.cfm?id=P00147