SKIN CANCER AND TANNING 101. Introduction. There are more than one hundred types of cancer. All the kinds of cancer begin in our cells.

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1 Introduction There are more than one hundred types of cancer. All the kinds of cancer begin in our cells. Normal cells grow and multiply and then die. Cancer cells grow and multiply and keep growing and multiplying. These cells then come together to form lumps, called tumors. Tumors can interfere with our normal functioning and can also spread throughout our bodies, causing even more problems. Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer. More than 1 million people a year are diagnosed with skin cancer in the U.S. About 60,000 are diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. Over 10,000 people die each year from skin cancer. The most common cause of skin cancer is excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, either from the sun or from indoor tanning equipment.

2 The Kinds of Skin Cancer Skin cancers are usually classified as melanomas or non-melanomas. The non-melanomas are far more common, but the melanomas are far more serious. The non-melanoma cancers include: Basal cell cancer Squamous cell cancer These cancers are usually found on the skin in places like the face and neck that get lots of sun. They don t typically spread to other parts of the body. They can, however, cause scarring, disfigurement and loss of some body function. Melanomas develop in the melanocytes, which are the cells that give our skin its color. Melanomas can appear anywhere on our bodies. They often occur in places that are only sometimes exposed to the sun. These parts of the body are usually more likely to get sunburned when they do get exposure to the sun. These sunburns are a major factor in causing melanomas. Unlike non-melanoma cancers, melanomas are more likely to spread throughout the body and can be more difficult to treat.

3 UV Radiation & the Skin UV radiation is one of the many kinds of light that comes from the sun. Large amounts of this radiation can cause our skin to tan or burn. Tanning beds and sunlamps also produce UV radiation and can also cause our skin to tan or burn. There are three main kinds of UV radiation: UVA rays UVB rays UVC rays Penetrate and damage the inner layer of the skin; Cause tans, but also cause wrinkling of the skin; Play a large role in melanomas Only reach the outer layer of the skin; Cause sunburns; Cause most non-melanoma cancers Do not usually reach us since they can t penetrate the ozone layer surrounding the earth The UVB rays reach the surface of the skin and can cause sunburns. The UVA rays (also known as tanning rays ) go deeper into the skin and can cause serious damage to the skin s cells. This is what happens: The UVA rays The extra melanin 1 penetrate the 2 makes the skin appear 3 inner layers of the skin. darker and helps protect the skin from further burning. The body tries to protect itself by having the skin s melanocyte cells produce extra melanin (skin color).

4 What is a Tan? From the outside (in our culture), we see that the skin is tan and most of us feel pretty happy about that. In fact, we re willing to pay lots of money at vacation spots and tanning spas to make this process happen. The unpleasant truth, though, is that a tan is sign that UV rays have damaged our skin. The tan only exists because it was the body s way of trying to prevent even more damage to our skin cells. Tanning can be dangerous for everyone, but it s especially dangerous for teenagers. Teenagers experience a very high rate of growth, so their skin cells divide much more quickly than adults skin cells. This increases the risk that they ll get skin cancer.

5 Different Skin Types While dark-skinned people can and do get skin cancer, light-skinned people are generally more at risk. This chart shows the different skin types: SKIN TYPE Type I Type II Type III Type IV DESCRIPTION Celtic, very light skin - Always burns, never tans Fair skin - Burns easily, tans minimally Average Caucasian - Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown Olive skin - Burns minimally, tans well to moderately brown Type V Type VI Brown skin - Rarely burns, tans deeply to dark Black skin - Never burns, not sensitive

6 Other Health Problems from UV Radiation Skin cancer is the most serious health problem caused by UV radiation. However, UV radiation can also create many other health issues. Unlike skin cancer, these problems affect people of all skin types pretty much equally: Premature wrinkles Problems with the immune system (the system that helps your body fight off diseases) Cataracts and other eye problems.

7 Tanning Indoors & Outdoors Indoor tanning is just as dangerous as outdoor tanning. In fact, UVA rays from a tanning bed can be even more intense than the ones from the sun. The risk of getting skin cancer and related health problems is the same no matter the source of the UV radiation. There is no such thing as a safe tan The tanning industry claims that indoor tanning is a healthy activity because it helps our bodies produce more Vitamin D. And it s true that Vitamin D is necessary for good health. It s also true that the easiest way to get Vitamin D is from sunlight. The fact is, though, that tanning (indoors or out) is not necessary to produce Vitamin D. Normal outdoor activity will give you enough sun exposure to produce all the Vitamin D your body needs.

8 Early Detection All of the skin cancers, even melanoma, can be curable if they are treated in their earliest stages. The ABCD rule is a guide to the signs of possible melanomas: Assymetry Border Color Diameter One half of a mole or birthmark doesn t match the other. The edges, or border, are irregular or blurred. The color is not the same all over; there can even be patches of red, white or blue. The spot is larger than ¼ across (about the size of a pencil eraser) or is growing larger. While tans are fashionable now, it wasn t that long ago that people preferred to have paler skin. Up until the 1920s, a tan was merely a sign that someone was an outdoor manual laborer. Rich people could afford to have others do their work, so the lack of a tan was a sign of wealth. Then in the 20s, the famous French fashion designer Coco Chanel returned from an ocean-side vacation with a dark tan. And everyone decided that it was pretty great to have a tan!

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