How Your Lifestyle Affects Your Risk for Skin Cancer

skin cancer
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While you may like to soak up the sun as much as the next person, it is worth noting that the most prevalent form of cancer in America is skin cancer, the bulk of cases being due to too much sun exposure. Susceptibility to the different forms of skin cancers can be hereditary, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the environmental factors in your life that could be putting you at risk.

Lifestyle Factors That Put You at Risk of Skin Cancer 

We’ve collected a list of lifestyle factors that put you at most risk, as well as advice to keep your skin healthy.  

  • Smoking

    We all know that smoking is bad for your overall health, so it is no surprising that smoking is bad for your skin too. Smoking reduces your body’s ability to heal. Smoking reduces blood flow by constricting your blood vessels, which leads to a higher risk of wound breakdown, tissue death, and infection.

    Smoking puts you at risk for a certain type of skin cancer, called squamous cell carcinoma, on the lips and in the mouth due to exposure of those areas directly with the harmful chemicals in the cigarettes/cigars. Additionally, smoking is also considered a high risk factor because it increases the age of your skin, making it more susceptible to skin cancers earlier. A UK study on Cancer Research found that smokers who are diagnosed with melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, are 40 percent less likely to survive than people who had quit smoking 10 years prior or had never smoked. Smoking decreases the body’s ability to fight skin cancer by making the skin more vulnerable.

  • Ultraviolet Exposure

    The most common types of skin cancer are caused by Ultraviolet (UV) exposure. UV radiation is the main cause of damage to the skin because it damages the DNA in skin cells which control and affect skin cell growth. Too much sun exposure to the sun increases your risk greatly, as well as getting sunburns.

  • Age

    Making sure that your skin stays healthy is a lifelong journey of self-care. Starting from very young, keep babies covered and in the shade. Sun protective clothing, such as long sleeves and hats, in addition to sunscreen, are a great way to reduce sun exposure and sunburns. It is important to develop healthy habits at an early age, as sun damages continues to accumulate over time.

  • Chemical Exposure

    Depending on your job, you may be harmful chemicals on a daily basis that could put you at risk for skin cancer. Arsenic and pesticides are two very dangerous chemicals that have been found to increase risk of skin cancer. Additionally, coal, tar, paraffin and certain types of oil also put you at a higher risk.

  • Weakened Immune System

    Your body needs to be at its strongest to fight all types of cancer. A weakened immune system will put you at great risk of developing skin cancer, because the body will struggle to fight off diseased/damaged cells or regenerate itself. If you have a disease or virus that weakens your immune system, or have had an organ transplant and are taking medications that suppress your immune system, we recommend extra sun protection and regular skin checks with your board certified dermatologist.

Useful Prevention Tips for the Health of Your Skin 

If you spend a lot of time outside, or are looking to get a tan, there are easy ways to get that sun-kissed look without damaging your skin. When spending hours outside, try to stay in the shade and always use sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 and broad spectrum UV protection. Remember to reapply the sunscreen every 2 hours, because sunscreen loses efficacy after a while. Wear protective clothing, longer sleeves and bring a hat with wherever you go. Try to use sunglasses that offer UV protection. Remember that UV rays are stronger in the spring, and around water they reflect very easily onto your skin, making it harder to hide from if you are out on a boat.

If you wear daily moisturizer or makeup, consider switching to brands that offer SPF protection. This will make your beauty routine easier by combining two steps. Also keep in mind that sun protection will keep your skin looking young, smooth, and healthy.

If you love a golden glow, there are tricks to achieving this look without the harmful rays. Instead, try bronzers, spray tans and extenders to get a sunless tan, but remember that these only add color and not protection.  Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps, both of which give off very strong UVA and UVB radiation.

The most important lifestyle choice is to make skin health a priority. We recommend getting at least annual full body skin exams with your board certified dermatologist. It is also important to conduct a self-exam regularly so that you can get familiar with your skin and notice any changes. If anything seems suspicious, starts to change shape, becomes itchy, or bleeds, then schedule an appointment with our board-certified dermatologists.  

Skin cancer screening should be a high priority for all – especially beach loving South Floridians. Contact Sipderstein Dermatology Group, with state-of-the-art offices in Boynton Beach & Boca Raton today to schedule your skin check today.