The BBB Connection May 2017 - Page 26

Dangerous Rays by Amelia Davis The city of Las Vegas in May feels more like summer than spring, doesn’t it? Even though the kids are back in school, pools and waterparks around the valley will still be open during select weekends; gathering thousands for some fun in the sun. This doesn’t come without risk, however. Spending even ten minutes in direct sunlight can result in a burn, and expose you to harmful UV rays. This in turn can put you at risk for developing skin cancer; the most common form of cancer with 4 million cases reported each year in the United States. May isn’t just one month closer to summer, it is also Skin Cancer Awareness Month. While skin cancer is possibly the most treatable type of cancer, that’s not saying you should take it lightly! Skin cancer presents in many different forms, like melanoma, carcinomas and cell tumors. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common, with 2.8 million cases diagnosed annually. Melanomas, the most serious, garner about 73,870 per year. Everyone is at risk of devel- oping abnormalities each time they burn in the sun, but some risk factors can give you a greater chance of being affected. AGE Your risk for skin cancer can increase with age as your body’s immune system naturally weakens over time. By age 65, 40 to 50% of Americans will have developed some form of skin cancer at one point in their lives. Young children below the age of 6 months up to 1 year should not be exposed to harsh sunlight at all, even with sun- screen, as they are at the highest risk. ETHNICITY The lighter your skin type, the more susceptible you are to sunburn. While other ethnic groups, such as African Americans, can withstand the sun longer due to the presence of melanin, they are not immune to all types of skin cancer and still require sunscreen. LIFESTYLE If you have been a regular smoker for over a year or have pre-existing health conditions that com- promise your immune system, you run a higher risk as well. Strangely enough, men tend to be more susceptible to skin cancer than women. Each hour, one person will die from skin cancer; totaling eight to ten-thousand a year. 26 The BBB Connection - May 2017