News 4 at 4

May 21, 2012 7:39 PM

Face It: Reduce you and your child's risk for skin cancer

TUCSON - Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. Over 2 million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year - more than breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancer combined.

This year, 12,000 Americans will die of their skin cancer. Today on News 4 at 4's "Face It!" segment, Dr. Tina Pai stopped by to talk about what we can do for our kids to prevent them from getting skin cancer.

The road to skin cancer starts in childhood, although it usually doesn't surface until decades later. When we were growing up, we didn't have the knowledge or means to prevent skin cancer, Dr. Pai says. Our children are very fortunate, because now much more is known about how skin cancer happens. With the right precautions, you can greatly reduce your child's chance of developing this disease.


1. Keep babies less than 6 months old out of the sun (Photo 1)
They lack natural sun protection and are especially vulnerable to sunburn.

2. Prevent sunburn (Photo 2, 3, 4)
The risk of melanoma doubles for someone who has had 5 or more sunburns
Just 1 blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles the risk of getting melanoma
Teach kids to protect themselves from the sun (avoid the sun, cover up when outdoors with hat and clothing, use sunscreen daily)

3. Don't use a tanning bed (Photo 5)
The intensity may be 15 times that of the sun. They increase the risk of all types of skin cancer, by up to 2.5 times. The World Health Organization places tanning beds in their highest cancer risk category, "carcinogenic to humans," alongside tobacco and plutonium. People who use a tanning bed before the age of 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) - 37 percent of girls aged 13-19 have used a tanning bed, and 2.3 million teens use a tanning bed at least once a year. Arizona law currently requires minors to have written consent from a parent to use a tanning bed, but a bill has been introduced that would prohibit minors from using them at all.

4. Avoid outdoor jobs (Photo 6)
Teenagers who work an outdoor summer job for 3 or more years double their risk of developing melanoma. Examples are lifeguarding, camp counselor, gardener, construction, housepainter.

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