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Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Skin cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in the United States according to the US Preventative Services Task Force.1 Sun exposure is a major risk factor for the development of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers.2,3 Proper sun protection is crucial in the fight against skin cancer. Most children and adults are not properly educated about the risks of sun exposure and the basic ways in which they can use sunscreen.4
Sun protection will have the greatest impact if achieved as early as possible in life.5,6 Previous studies have found that approximately 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18 years.7 Early education of the harmful effects of exposure to the sun and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can establish healthy behaviors early in life that are more likely to be practiced into adulthood.8
So, parents -- teach your children from an early age and lead by example by following these general guidelines . . .
1U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Counseling to prevent skin cancer: recommendations and rationale of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. MMWR Recomm Rep 2003;52(RR-15):13-17.
2Thompson J, Menzies S, Shaw H, Scolyer R and Kefford R. Cutaneous melanoma. Lancet 2005;365(9476):2004-2005.
3Lim JL, Stern RS. High levels of ultraviolet B exposure increase the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in psoralen and ultraviolet A-treated patients. J Invest Dermatol 2005;124(3):505-513.
4Wesson KM, Silverberg NB. Sun protection education in the United States: what we know and what needs to be taught. Cutis 2003;71(1):71-4, 77.
5Armstrong BK, Kricker A. The epidemiology of UV induced skin cancer. J Photochem Photobiol B 2001;63(1-3):8-18.
6Tucker MA, Goldstein AM. Melanoma etiology: where are we? Oncogene 2003;22(20):3042-3052.
7Stern RS, Weinstein MC and Baker SG. Risk reduction for nonmelanoma skin cancer with childhood sunscreen use. Arch Dermatol 1986;122(5):537-545.
8Center for Disease Control MMWR Weekly. Survey of the Knowledge of and Awareness of Melanoma:May 03, 1996 / 45(17);346-349. 2001; 2005.
9FDA Proposes New Rule for Sunscreen Products:Highlights Include New UVA Rating System, Sun Warning Information. August 23, 2007.
This article is based on information provided by the Executive Health Supplement to Inside Business Magazine, and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission, 2011.
Last Reviewed: Aug 26, 2013
Elma D Baron, MD
Associate Professor of Dermatology
Director, Skin Study Center
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University