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Skin Cancer Risk Highest in Young Adults [AUDIO]

NEW JERSEY 101.5

Every hour in the United States, one person dies from malignant melanoma, or skin cancer. November is “Healthy Skin Month” and experts are urging people to take steps to prevent skin disease.

Suntan lotion
Flickr User Robert S. Donovan

Young adults between the ages of 25 and 29 have seen the largest increase in cases of malignant melanoma.

“Malignant melanoma is the number one killer for young adults right now and it has been directly correlated with the increased use of tanning salons,” said Dr. Jerry Bagel, a dermatologist at Windsor Dermatology and founder of the Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey. “So, avoidance of tanning salons and careful exposure to outdoor lighting is important to keep your skin healthy.”

That does not mean that people should avoid the sun altogether. In fact, people need at least 20 minutes of sun exposure three times a week to help with our vitamin D levels.  In addition to helping with bone metabolism, vitamin D also helps the skin fight infections and germs. ”

Aside from malignant melanoma, too much sunlight can also cause increased wrinkling, sun damage, hyper-pigmentation and dark spots on your face,” said Bagel. “You can actually look younger by avoiding excessive sun exposure.”

Most sun damage occurs before the age of 21. “When you go outdoors, you need to use a sunscreen of at least SPF 20, preferably 30 or greater to not only prevent the exposure of ultraviolet B rays, but ultraviolet A rays which penetrate deeper into the skin,” said Bagel.

When should you go to a dermatologist?

“Some people can get a baseline evaluation at the age of 18. If they don’t have many moles, they don’t necessarily need to be seen on an annual basis. If someone has numerous moles, then it would be prudent to have a skin evaluation once a year. Also, if anything changes in size, shape or darkness, it’s important to have it checked,” said Bagel.

 

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