Around 60,000 people in the UK contract skin cancer each year. It begins when your skin cells start to grow in a rapid and out of control way. This then leads to a malignant (cancerous) tumour forming on your skin. Whilst exposure to sunlight is the leading risk factor for this type of cancer there are others too. In this article I will be discussing three of the main skin cancer risk factors.
1) EXPOSURE TO ULTRAVIOLET (UV) LIGHT:- As I mentioned above this is the main risk factor for this type of cancer. The reason for this is that UV rays cause damage to the DNA in your skin cells increasing the chances of cell division going wrong and cancer forming. Sunlight contains UV rays so prolonged exposure to the sun through spending a lot of time outdoors can increase your risk. Sunbeds and sunlamps also emit high doses of UV light and so make you more likely to develop this condition.
2) LIGHT SKIN:- People who have light skin are more likely to develop skin cancer because their skin offers less protection from UV rays. Those with very light skin that goes red or freckles in the sun are most at risk, especially if they were heavily exposed to UV rays from an early age. Contrastingly people with dark skin are much less likely to develop this condition because their skin contains a melanin pigment which offers protection from UV rays.
3) GENETIC FACTORS:- There are a number of genetic factors that can increase your chances of contracting this type of cancer. First, having two or more family members that developed skin cancer is thought to increase your risk. Secondly, having blonde or red hair makes you more likely to develop this disease. Thirdly, people with blue eyes are thought to be at a greater risk than those with other eye colours. Finally, people with a large number of freckles or moles on their skin are thought to have a greater chance of developing this cancer.
Unlike other cancers you have full control over many of the risk factors linked to skin cancer. Long term exposure to UV rays makes you more likely to develop this condition especially if you have light skin, blonde or red hair, blue eyes or lots of freckles and moles. Therefore, if you know you are going to be out in the sun for long periods take the necessary precautions by covering your skin and wearing sun cream. If your genetic features make you an even higher risk for this type of cancer then make sure you take shelter regularly and avoid prolonged exposure to UV rays when you can. If you take these precautions you should be able to reduce your skin cancer risk.
Whilst every intention has been made to make this article accurate and informative, it is intended for general information only. Skin cancer is a very serious, life threatening condition and you should discuss any concerns, treatments or lifestyle changes fully with your doctor.