How to Avoid Skin Cancer - Page 2
“Currently one in 55 Americans will develop melanoma. and melanoma is eight times more likely in young women than it was back in the 1970s,” he says. “The survival from melanoma depends on how early it is caught, with deeper melanomas having a higher chance of spreading and causing death.”
The good news is that survival rates have improved in recent decades: in 1996, 92 percent of melanoma patients survived long-term, whereas the survival rate of melanoma was only 49 percent from 1950 to 1954.
The bad news?
“One person dies from melanoma every hour in the U.S.,” says Dr. Brewer.
Luckily for those of us who need our outdoors fix, skin cancer is preventable—we just have to vigilantly use precautions. Dr. Brewer suggests running earlier or later in the day to avoid peak sun exposure, as well as wearing hats, training in shaded areas when possible and applying sunscreen.
“Apply a sunscreen 30 minutes prior to an event or run with an spf of 50 to 75, higher if possible, which will provide good coverage for a number of hours,” he says.
He also notes that the most common locations for skin cancer are the nose and ears, since they are most exposed, even under hats, and we often forget to put sunscreen on, for instance, the tops of our ears. “Usually these [areas] are affected by basal or squamous cell carcinoma,” says Dr. Brewer. “Melanoma can occur anywhere on the body, even areas protected by the sun.”
Sunscreen has found itself at the center of an academic and scientific controversy in recent years, as multiple studies claim to have produced evidence that certain chemical ingredients of standard sunscreen, such as phenylbenzimidazole, can produce a reaction when exposed to the sun that damages DNA—a precursor to cancer. While chemical-free sunscreen, offered by Burt’s Bees and other companies, is an option for runners who are concerned about the risks, Dr. Brewer says there is scant evidence to support the claim that chemical-free sunscreen is safer. “Although there have been recent attacks on sunscreens, sunscreens continue to be one of the safest and most effective ways of protecting yourself from one of the most common carcinogens known to man—ultraviolet radiation.”