Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. It's also one of the most preventable. The primary cause is exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds.
People of all skin colors can develop skin cancer. It's one of the easiest cancers to detect and most types are highly curable.
Risk factors for skin cancer include:
- A history of frequent or intense sun exposure
- Tanning bed use
- One or more blistering sunburns
- Red or blond hair, fair skin, freckles and blue or light-colored eyes
- More than 50 moles
- A family history of melanoma
- A personal history of melanoma
- A personal history of basal cell or squamous cell skin cancers
Tanning bed use -- indoor tanning -- was once considered a safe and convenient way to get a tan. However, indoor tanning is now recognized by health care experts as a dangerous practice that sharply increases a person’s risk for skin cancer.
The younger a person is when they begin using tanning beds, the greater their risk for skin cancer. Starting indoor tanning before age 18 increases melanoma risk by 85%. Starting between ages 18 and 24 increases melanoma risk by 91%.
As with smoking, it's never too late to quit. By avoiding exposure to UV rays from the sun and tanning beds, and embracing your natural skin tone, you can reduce your risk for premature aging and skin cancer.