Sun Exposure and Cancer

Excessive exposure to the sun without protection such as sunscreen, shade and hats can cause skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and more than 2 million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. That figure is more than cancers of the prostate, breast, lung, colon, uterus, ovaries, and pancreas combined.  Moreover, this number has been increasing over the past few decades. Unlike some cancers such as mesothelioma, where patients were unaware that they were being exposed to the harmful mineral asbestos and therefore did not protect themselves, those who are diagnosed with skin cancer often could have prevented it.  If it is too late to prevent the skin cancer, many times, if caught early, the area can be treated effectively to get rid of cancer and stop it from spreading to other parts of the body. Most skin cancers are caused by extreme exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.  A lot of this exposure comes from the sun, however many causes of skin cancer now come from man-made sources such as tanning beds.

Skin Exams

It is easy to detect skin cancer without the help of fancy medical machines. All a person needs to identify a possible skin cancer is their eyes and a mirror. A self exam is best done in a well-lit room, in front of a full length mirror. Look for abnormal marks on the body that are weird shapes or seem to be new.  Keep an eye on those trouble spots and if they change or grow, it is best to consult a doctor.

Protection From UV Rays

While it’s virtually impossible to avoid the sun completely, and this is in no way promoting the reduction of physical activity outside, too much sun exposure can be harmful. Taking simple steps to limit the amount of sun intake can be very worthwhile in the long run. It is important to note that being out in the sun doesn’t just mean spending a day at the beach. All the small amounts of sun exposure day after day add up. “Slip, slop, slap and wrap,” a phrase that can help people remember the four key ways to reduce harmful UV exposure, may seem simple enough but is commonly overlooked.
  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses (to protect the eyes and sensitive skin around the eyes)

Mesothelioma and Sun Protection

While there is little evidence proving a link of too much sun exposure to mesothelioma, it is always a safe decision to be protected from the sun even if a diagnosis of mesothelioma has already been made.  The synergistic effects of battling both mesothelioma and skin cancer might be too much to handle for someone with an already compromised immune system.   Especially with a latency period of 20 to 50 years, one may not know they are likely to be diagnosed with mesothelioma; therefore taking extra precautionary measures with sun exposure couldn’t hurt. Reference: