Skin cancer ranks as one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers around the globe. This is partly because skin cancer can affect all ages and both males or females. This article will look at a number of commonly perceived myths associated with skin cancer and disprove their logic with the basics of science.
1. ‘Being a person with tanned skin protects you from skin cancer’ –Skin that has been tanned by the sun is, in fact, the result of skin cells being damaged by the harmful, ionising radiation of the sun. While it is true that those with darker colored skin are less likely to develop skin cancer, they still have a degree of risk. Those with fairer skin are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer, especially when attempting to become tanned over time, through natural (sun bathing) or artificial (tanning bed) means. By continuously allowing your skin to tan, you are damaging the cells and increasing your risk of developing skin cancer. To prevent this, you should always wear at least an SPF 15 sun cream or a sunblock solution when outside.
2. ‘Obtaining a tan from a tanning bed is safer than tanning in the sun’ –The intensity of exposure from a tanning bed is far greater than the radiation given off and directed at your skin by the sun. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, people who use tanning beds are 74% more likely to get melanoma than people who do not use tanning beds. It would take four hours of being exposed to sunlight in order to reach the equivalent of 20 minutes of exposure gained from a tanning bed. Furthermore, the UVA rays of a tanning beds give off 12 times more UVA rays than the sun. The solar radiation has both UVB and UVA whereas the radiation given out from a tanning bed is only UVA. UVA rays are more dangerous to the body as they have a higher penetrating power. This means that the UVA rays from the tanning beds can reach deeper at a higher level than the sun. The effect of this on the body is that the risk of developing skin cancer is higher, and the immune system may also be weakened. This can further the development of cancer and illness. Therefore overall, tanning beds are not only more intense that solar radiation, but they are also more dangerous.
3. ‘If I take care of my skin now, I won’t develop skin cancer in the future’ – Unfortunately, skin cancer is a slow developing disease and can take over 20 years to surface and develop. This means that any exposure or burning experienced by you as a child will already have impacted your risk of developing skin cancer in the future. Although it is true that protecting your skin now will limit your risk, and the extent of damage caused to your body, the damage that has already been experienced by your skin cannot be undone. Therefore, it is vital that children are protected thoroughly from the sun.