Oncologists Warn About Skin Cancer From the Sun

KC Kelly Ph.D.'s picture

The death rate from malignant melanoma, a deadly skin cancer is relentlessly rising. Cancer expert, Richard Marais, professor of molecular oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research in London shared that people sold a 'healthy tan', either from burning in the sun or on a sun bed, should know they are being sold a carcinogen that kills. He stated, "You can call it, for want of a better word, an epidemic."

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the deadly carcinogens in cigarette smoke are in the same category as the ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer from burning in the sun or in a sun bed in a tanning parlor.

Dr James Larkin, consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London stated that the message of "don't burn" is just not getting through to people. The unfortunate news is that by the time the message does get through about how dangerous being in the sun without protection on your skin is, it's often too late and cancer has not only formed, but sometimes has spread to other bodily organs. Dr. Larkin warned, "The real problem with melanoma, though, is that it spreads. Once you have melanoma that has spread to the internal organs, average life expectancy is between six and nine months."

The cultural vanity of having a "tan" overpowers any thought of the cancer risk involved with baking in the sun. Dr. Larkin stated, "There is an unusually young age distribution for an adult cancer. Melanoma is vastly overrepresented in young people, especially women and I strongly believe that if people could visit the clinic I run and see people dying of melanoma, it would begin to change our behavior."

Malignant Melanoma Skin Cancer

Malignant melanoma is one of the deadliest forms of cancer and the latest figures demonstrate that more than 10,000 cases in this country cause 2,000 deaths every year. The known risk factor for melanoma is the ultraviolet light which causes tremendous damage to the skin in many ways, but the most significant way is the one with the most consequence; deadly skin cancer. Professor Marais stated, "How often do you see the words 'healthy tan'? No one mentions 'deadly tan'."

Professor Marais shared amazing statistics, "The interesting comparison is with Australia, where melanoma has overtaken lung cancer as the fourth most common cancer. In Britain, it is the sixth most common but given the dramatic rise in incidence, the next statistics will probably place it fifth behind bowel, breast, lung and prostate." He continued, "Awareness of skin cancer is lower than many of the other major cancers. The problem is that the primary lesions may be irritating or unsightly but generally speaking they don't cause any trouble. People don't feel particularly bad. Basically, it seems ignorable."

The bottom line is that ignored or not, skin cancer is deadly. Dr. Larkin gives a final message, 'The message is simple. Your skin is the largest organ in your body. Look after it. Melanoma is a nasty, unpleasant disease. It kills people in their teens and 20s as well as the elderly. We don't want people to sit indoors on sunny days or live in cupboards, but you have to protect yourself. The UV rays from the sun are carcinogenic. Cover up, wear high factor sun protection cream, buy hats. These are not scare tactics. They are a considered response to a growing epidemic."

Written by Dr. Kc Kelly, Ph.D.

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