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Prevention: How to Reduce Your Risk of Melanoma
Research funded by the Melanoma Research Alliance and others continues to advance our understanding of the causes of melanoma, and how genetics may play a role. What we do know is that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light is the major environmental contributor to melanoma.
Exposure to damaging UV rays from the sun and tanning devices is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma.
Here are some tips to reduce your risk of melanoma:
- Wear Sunscreen. Make sunscreen a daily habit. UV radiation can still damage skin even in the winter and on cloudy days. Use broad-spectrum sunscreen (protects against UVA and UVB rays) with SPF of at least 30.
- Wear Protective Clothing. Protect your body with sun-protective clothing, hat, and sunglasses.
- Avoid Peak Rays. Seek shade during the mid-day sun, when the sun’s rays are most intense.
- Don’t Use Tanning Beds. Indoor tanning has been shown to increase the risk of melanoma by up to 75%. Melanoma is the number one new cancer diagnosed in young adults (ages 25-29), and scientists attribute this trend to the use of tanning beds among this age group, particularly young women.
- Protect Children. Just one bad sunburn in childhood or adolescence doubles your child’s chances of developing melanoma later in life.
Melanoma Risk Factors
People with the following traits are at higher risk for developing melanoma and other skin cancers:
- Fair skin
- Red or blonde hair
- Light eyes
- More than 50 moles
- History of sunburn or UV exposure
- Family history of skin cancer
- Personal history of skin cancer
If you have any of these traits, be sure you know your skin – early detection is key!