Why do some people develop skin cancer, while others seemingly do not? The apparently selective nature of cancer, particularly melanoma, may not be as discriminatory and random as it may appear.
A study by the Department of Dermatology in Australia looked at what gender and age specific conditions might account for why young men in particular suffer from a higher incidence of skin cancer than other demographic groups. They came up with seven interesting factors that could be changed through education and awareness to save lives.
- The study of 416 individuals over the age of 18 showed that young people, particularly men, were less likely to bother using a sun protection cream. They appeared to be unaware or unconcerned with the risk factors for skin cancer
- In the age group tested, 94% of those between the ages of 18 and 30 had at least one incident of sunburn in the last 12 months, causing skin issues.
- 85% of people failed to apply sufficient amounts of sun cream to reduce the risk factors of skin cancer. The required amount to provide protection is 40 ml per application.
- Women were far more knowledgeable about using sunscreen. For example, most were aware that sun cream has an expiry date, and that it can be denatured or damaged by being stored somewhere hot.
- Reasons given for not using sunscreen to reduce the risk factors for skin cancer included the greasiness of the cream. Forgetting to apply sunscreen was another common excuse, particularly in older people in the study.
- In the study, women were found to be twice as likely to apply sun cream compared to men. This could be due to concern about aging lines and wrinkles, or because they were more aware of the dangers of skin cancer than their male counterparts
- Young people were less likely to cover up in the sun, wear a hat and use sun screen in various forms for lips, body etc. They also fail to use water resistant sunscreen when swimming.
Overall the study showed that young males need to be educated about the awareness of the risk factors for cancer. However, we all need to learn to use sunscreen often, and to use enough for it to be effective against potential skin issues.
The facts about skin cancer risk factors are simple. Skin cancer and melanoma are caused by exposure to ultraviolet rays, either from the sun or from a tanning bed. Use of a sunscreen can filter out those harmful rays, preventing skin issues.
Regular skin examinations are important for anyone who spends time outdoors, either for sports, work or leisure pursuits, particularly if you live in a sunny southern state. Young men particularly need to heed the warnings and make changes to reduce the risk factors for skin cancer with the simple regular application of sunscreen.