While most of us are well aware of the harm skin cancer can cause, we often fail to realize that we ourselves may be at risk. There are multiple factors that can play a major role in increasing your chances of developing skin cancer. So let's find out whether or not you're at high risk.
We often jokingly say individuals with pale or very light skin need more sun. In actuality, these individuals can be harmed by sun exposure and are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer than anyone else. That's because those with pale skin have little melanin. We all know melanin as the protein that gives our skin, hair, and eyes pigmentation. The darker your features are, the more melanin you have. But beyond giving us color, melanin also acts as a natural protectant against the sun. The presence of melanin ensures that the sun's harmful rays do as little damage as possible. Lighter folks have less protection and are, therefore, exposed to the ultraviolet radiation. It's this radiation that mutates our DNA and leads to skin cancer.
As if aging wasn’t problematic enough, just being a certain age puts you at a higher risk for skin cancer. This is because older skin has absorbed UV rays for decades. Over time, the amount of absorbed radiation can get to be too much for our skin to handle. DNA then becomes susceptible to mutation, allowing cancer to develop.
Knowing that you should wear sunscreen and actually doing it are two different things. Applying an ample amount of sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is a must every time you go out. Sunscreen works to block the sun’s rays from penetrating your skin. With that being the case, you can see why it’s important to apply sunscreen all year round. Each time you don’t and you step outside, unprotected from the sun, you take one step closer towards developing skin cancer.
While there may not be much logic surrounding the desire to constantly tan, it’s a highly popular beauty ritual. What most people fail to realize is the fact that something as simple as getting a tan can have serious implications. The truth is, when the skin changes colors (darkens) it’s a sign that the skin is sun damaged. The cells are being cooked by radiation. Being repeatedly sun fried will eventually cause DNA within the cells to mutate, thus increasing the risk of skin cancer.
It’s perfectly okay to have fun in the sun, but for many of us, that fun can quickly turn into a nightmare. For those who are high risk, you certainly should not take skin cancer prevention lightly. This includes getting yearly skin cancer screenings and mole evaluations and keeping your dermatologist updated on any lifestyle choices that may further increase your risk, like hiking, gardening, outdoor sports, etc.