Article at a Glance
• Utahans have a higher than average rate of skin cancer, including melanoma.
• One bad sunburn can double your chances of developing skin cancer.
• One in five people will develop skin cancer during their lifetimes.
• Whether you get a tan or sunburn, you are increasing the odds that you will develop skin cancer.
Kids don’t always know what can hurt them. That is why you make them hold your hand in parking lots and teach them not to talk to strangers.
But sometimes even parents don’t realize how harmful sun exposure can be. As much as we love the sun, we need to remember it can be dangerous and even fatal. Here are some things you need to know about sun exposure and skin cancer.
• One bad sunburn during your childhood can double your risk of developing skin cancer.
• Not only sunburns are dangerous—so are tans. Some people believe that getting a base tan to prevent burning later can reduce their risk of skin cancer. But whether your skin tans or burns, you are still being exposed to harmful UV rays.
• UV rays don’t only darken your skin, but they actually injure the skin’s DNA. Your body tries to fix the damage, but when too much exposure occurs the cells can become cancerous.
• In the United States it is estimated that one in five people will develop skin cancer during their lifetimes.
• Most people who get skin cancer are more likely to get it again.
• Recent studies have linked the use of tanning beds with an increased risk of melanoma.
And if you think you are safe because you don’t live in California or Florida, think again. Utah beats out both states when it comes to the average rate of skin cancer, including melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer. Why? For a couple of reasons:
• Utahans love outdoor recreation and get plenty of exposure to the sun.
• Utah is at a higher altitude, meaning we are closer to the sun.
• People in Utah tend to have fairer complexions because a large percentage are of British and Scandinavian descent. Having lighter skin means you are more likely to get skin cancer.
So next time you head outside with the kids make sure you grab the sunscreen, long sleeved shirts, and hats. Your best protection from the sun is to cover up! For more information about treating and preventing sunburns, visit our section on sunburns.
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