Skin Cancer: What, Why And How
STILL THINK THAT SUN TANNING IS COOL? MAYBE THIS WILL CHANGE YOUR MIND.
The dish on a silent killer.
Images of long, tanned limbs under the St. Tropez sun are every girls’ dream. Who doesn’t want the bronzed goddess look? We’ll tell you who – you! With skin cancer numbers on the rise, is the health of our largest organ really worth sacrificing for beauty? CLEO looks at why skin problems are on the rise and how you are not protecting yourself enough.
SKIN CANCER IS NOT AS SERIOUS AS OTHER CANCERS
Time to debunk that myth! With two main skin layers, we have all the more to take care of. Sure, skin cancer is quite common in some countries and is highly treatable. Dr. Saunthari, a consultant doctor for the National Cancer Society of Malaysia, explains that the most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma (75 per cent of all skin cancers) and squamous cell (20 per cent). The most deadly form is melanoma (five per cent), and this cancer kills more people than the previous two combined. “Skin cancer is more commonly overlooked as previous cases classified as non-cancer are now identified as early-stage cancer. This is due to a re-classification of melanoma.”
TANNING BEDS ARE A QUICK FIX
This generation wants everything quick, and tans are no different. But did you know that tanning beds use UVR (Ultra Violet Radiation), which is classified by the IInternational Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 list of the most dangerous cancer-causing devices? That’s serious stuff! According to the Journal of American Academy of
Dermatology 2011, indoor tanners have a 69 per cent increase in chances of getting a risk of basal-cell carcinoma. Awareness is still at its minimum, as research conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology showed that on an average day, one million Americans use tanning salons.
WE SKIMP OR SKIP ON THE SPF COMPLETELY
Exposing yourself to the sun’s harmful rays without protection is scary! Yes, it’s a hassle but it needs to be done. “There are different strengths and types when it comes to SPF,” says Dr. Saunthari. “SPF15 means that it takes 15 times longer to achieve tanning of the skin compared to no SPF. Choose sunblocks that protect against UVA and UVB.” However, if you thought you could apply SPF once and be done with it, you are wrong. SPF only lasts for 30 minutes to a couple of hours depending on exposure and element factors such as water. Therefore it only works best if applied more than once! So the cue here? Top up!
WE THINK WE’RE NOT AT RISK
“Anyone can get skin cancer,” says Dr. Saunthari. “Some people are more at risk than others though. Take for example people with lighter hair and skin colours. This is because they have less melanin in their skin to protect them. Melanin is a natural barrier to UV rays so a reduced amount puts you in danger.” Keep in mind that a lack of melanin doesn’t mean that skin cancer discriminates between race, gender or age. Everyone needs to take the same amount of protection regardless.
YOU HAVEN’T INVESTED IN A GREAT DERMATOLOGIST
Dermatologists are a complete necessity. Your run-of-the-mill doctor at the clinic won’t be able to tell you when your mole is dangerous or when your freckles or skin tags are looking a little abnormal. A good dermatologist will be able to advise you on the skin protection measures you need to take and how to prevent any nasty happenings. You can, however, help yourself by checking your body every month. Take note of any moles (new or old) on your body and any changes in height, colour and shape.
YOU FORGET TO PROTECT YOUR EYES
Not keeping your peepers safe from the sun can result in cataracts and eyelid cancers (yes, there’s such thing). The solution? UV-blocking sunglasses. You might think that splurging on top-notch sunglasses with all the add-ons is a waste of money but you’d think twice if you knew that eyelid cancer can cause thickening of the eyelid and even a spreading, coloured mass on the eyelid itself.