Childhood sunburns increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, later in life. An Australia study found that using sunscreen in childhood reduced the risk of developing melanoma by 40 percent in young adults.
Researchers at the University of Sydney analyzed data collected from nearly 1,700 Australians, ages 18 to 40. They looked at those who were regular users of sunscreen in childhood and compared to those who rarely used the products. The study showed that regular use of sunscreen protects against the damaging effects of sun exposure. As with most cancers, the risk of melanoma increases with age. But according to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults (especially young women).
It is estimated that in 2018, more than 91,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma. In the last 10 years, rates for new cases of melanoma have been rising on average 1.5 percent each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
To minimize exposure to damaging UV radiation, adopt the following measures:
- Stay in the shade, especially during midday hours (10am- 3pm).
- Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck.
- Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block both UVA and UVB rays.
- Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher, and both UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) protection.
- Avoid indoor tanning.
Finally, examine your skin regularly to detect new or changing skin lesions, lesions that look unusual (the ugly duckling sign), and lesions that are irritated or non-healing. It’s also advisable to see your dermatologist periodically for skin exams.