In the past, The PediaBlog has looked at the relationship of outdoor sun exposure and indoor tanning with the increased incidence of skin cancer, especially malignant melanoma. Mary Elizabeth Dallas quantifies the problem further:
White women who get five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 have an 80 percent increased risk for melanoma — the most deadly form of skin cancer, new study findings indicate.
Researchers also found these women have a 68 percent greater risk for two other forms of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Dallas passes along this message from the study’s author:
“Our results suggest that sun exposures in both early life and adulthood were predictive of non-melanoma skin cancers, whereas melanoma risk was predominantly associated with sun exposure in early life,” according to Dr. Abrar Qureshi, professor and chair of the department of dermatology at Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital in Providence.
“Parents may need to be advised to pay more attention to protection from early-life sun exposure for their kids in order to reduce the likelihood of developing melanoma as they grow up. Older individuals should also be cautious with their sun exposure, because cumulative sun exposure increases skin cancer risk as well,” Qureshi said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research.
The AAP provides helpful tips to prevent sunburn and skin damage in children:
- Keep babies younger than 6 months out of direct sunlight. Find shade under a tree, an umbrella, or the stroller canopy.
- When possible, dress yourself and your children in cool, comfortable clothing that covers the body, such as lightweight cotton pants, long-sleeved shirts, and hats.
- Select clothes made with a tight weave; they protect better than clothes with a looser weave. If you’re not sure how tight a fabric’s weave is, hold it up to see how much light shines through. The less light, the better. Or you can look for protective clothing labeled with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF).
- Wear a hat with an all-around 3-inch brim to shield the face, ears, and back of the neck.
- Limit your sun exposure between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when UV rays are strongest.
- Wear sunglasses with at least 99% UV protection. Look for child-sized sunglasses with UV protection for your child.
- Use sunscreen.
- Make sure everyone in your family knows how to protect his or her skin and eyes. Remember to set a good example by practicing sun safety yourself.
Tomorrow we’ll look at ideas for choosing the right sunscreen.