Summer's here, the swimming pool and tennis courts are calling, and all worries fade away in the long days that we’re enjoying. But summer is still the time to remain vigilant about protecting skin about sun damage.
Did you know that more than 3.5 million cases of skin cancer affecting two million people are diagnosed annually? Interestingly women have higher rates of melanoma before the age of 40; however, gender differences change after that.
In fact, the American Academy of Dermatology warns that men who are older than 50 years of age have an increased risk of developing the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma. The association recently completed a new study which found that men in general often forget to use proper sun protection and do not know how to examine their skin for skin cancer. The results showed:
- Less than one-third of men reported “always” protecting their skin when outside, as compared to 43 percent of women.
- Thirty-nine percent of men said they’d prefer to enjoy the sunshine without worry about having sun protection for their skin, as opposed to 28 percent of women.
- Forty-six percent of men reported they knew how to check their skin for signs of skin cancer, while 59 percent knew how to do this self-check.
“This survey demonstrates that many men do not protect themselves from the sun when outdoors and that some still believe that sun exposure is good for their health. This is a very troubling combination in light of the fact that the major risk factor for melanoma is exposure to ultraviolet light,” said board-certified dermatologist Thomas E. Rohrer, MD, FAAD, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Brown University School of Medicine. “Men need to examine their skin and see a dermatologist if they spot anything changing, bleeding, or growing."
The good news is that there’s a 98 percent rate for surviving five years if the melanoma is detected and treated before it spread to the lymph nodes.
And there’s a good way to prevent skin cancers – sunscreens. “Scientific evidence supports the benefits of sunscreen usage to minimize short- and long-term damage to the skin from UV radiation and outweighs any unproven claims of toxicity or human health hazard,” said Dr. Daniel M. Siegel, president of the Academy.
In May, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration came out with new regulations about sunscreens. One of the regulations notes that sunscreen products that protect against all types of sun-induced skin damage, including sun burn, skin cancer and premature skin aging, can be labeled “Broad Spectrum” and SPF 15” or higher on the front. The FDA notes that these products, if used as directed with other sun protection measures, are believe to reduce the risk of skin cancer as well as early skin aging. Higher SPF values indicated higher levels of overall protection in these products.
Sunscreens that are not labeled “Broad Spectrum” or that have an SPF value between 2-14, will only prevent sunburn.
Furthermore, sunscreens that claim to be water resistant must report how long the use can expected to benefit from the product’s SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating. There will be two choices – 40 minutes or 80 minutes. In addition, manufactures no longer can claim that sunscreens are waterproof, sweat proof or sun blocks. Sunscreens also can’t claim that they protect the skin immediately on application or last for more than two hours without reapplication unless data to substantiate that claim is approved by the FDA.
The AAD recommends that you and your family members should try to use a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects against both types of ultraviolet radiation. Aim for an SPF of 30 or higher when buying sunscreen. You should also consider limiting sun exposure and finding the shade whenever possible. Also, wear clothes that protect you from the sun’s rays, including hats and sunglasses.
Primary Sources for This Sharepost:
American Academy of Dermatology. (2012). Men over 50 need to get in the swing of preventing and detecting skin cancer.
American Academy of Dermatology. (2012). Sunscreen remains a safe, effective form of sun protection.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2012). FDA sheds light on sunscreens.
Published On: June 21, 2012