Unusual Skin Cancer Risk Identified
Here’s some unexpected news. If you spend lots of time behind the wheel, you might have an increased skin cancer risk based on the findings of a new study recently published.
Skin cancers on the face were found to happen most often on the left side (the side that’s next to the window when driving) among a group of almost 1,050 patients in Saint Louis. The association was most pronounced in men.
There are three major types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, the most deadly. All three types are going up, and can be avoided by being careful about exposure to the sun, and watching your skin for any suspicious changes.
If you see something troubling, you need to see a dermatologist right away so you can get a professional evaluation. Early detection is key.
While you might be perfectly cautious about the sun, few of us think about the UV rays that stream through our car windows. The effects of such exposure can build over many years according to researchers. It’s important to be aware of the risk.
For some time researchers have noticed that skin cancers were showing up more on the left side, especially in men, and they decided to see if there was anything to these observations.
About 54% of cases of skin cancers on the head and neck happened on the left side – 56% of the time for men, 52% of the time for women.
Another unsettling finding – melanomas happened on the left side 75% of the time in the group as a whole.
Sunlight is made up of both UVA and UVB radiation. The UVB rays are the ones that cause sunburn and are also responsible for basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer. This is the form of the disease that’s disfiguring but rarely deadly.
The UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are believed to cause wrinkling. Recent research has found that these rays exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays and may even cause skin cancer.
Windshields do block UVA and UVB rays, but the other windows in your car, on the side and in back, don’t protect against UVA rays.
If you drive a lot and you have other risk factors for skin cancer, you need to protect yourself in any way you can. Fosko suggests wearing sunscreen that blocks both types of ultraviolet (UV) radiation; check the label to be sure. Protective clothing can also be helpful, and there are windows with tinted glass and special UV filters that might also help protect you from the UVA rays of the sun.
Beyond helping preserve your skin and youthful good looks, regular application of sunscreen is something you can do to lesson your skin cancer risk and protect yourself from this dangerous form of cancer.