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Stanford Medicine


Intense, rapid sun tanning may increase skin cancer risk

As the end of summer appears on the horizon, resist the urge to spend the remaining days baking in the sun trying to get a quick tan. Doing so may raise your risk of skin cancer, especially if you’re vigilant about staying covered up year round, according to findings published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention.

In the study, University of Leeds researchers studied the genetic make-up of approximately 1,500 men and women with varying numbers of moles and surveyed participants about how often they exposed their skin to the sun. The results suggested that, while genes play a role in determining the number and size of a person’s moles, individuals who try to go from pasty white to perfectly tan in a short period of time are at a higher risk of getting melanoma, the rarest and deadliest form of skin cancer.

Lead author Julia Newton-Bishop, MD, explained in a release how the findings could help you lower your risk level for melanoma:

Like many illnesses, the reason we get skin cancer is partly due to our genes and partly due to our lifestyle or environment. What we want is for individuals to understand their own level of risk so they can modify their behaviour accordingly. This is all about knowing your own skin.

And in a previous 1:2:1 podcast, Susan Swetter, MD, director of the Pigmented Lesion and Cutaneous Melanoma Clinic at the Stanford Cancer Center, discussed the factors that go into melanoma development and how skin type and sun exposure can influence your skin cancer risk.

Photo by Daquella Manera

2 Responses to “ Intense, rapid sun tanning may increase skin cancer risk ”

  1. Dr. Alex Says:

    It’s an interesting debate–avoiding the sun or getting the sex appeal of a nice tan. The findings seem to be clear, but I doubt this will have an effect on the general public’s behavior. The fight goes on.

  2. Barbara Scaffede Says:

    I noticed while driving in Holland, MI where I am from the billboards that say, “I want to feel good about myself, so I tan” or “I want more self-confidense, so I tan”
    I am a stage 3 survivor of melanoma and this makes my stomach turn.
    This is a misleading message to our young people.
    What to do???


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