The incidence of many common cancers is falling, but the diagnoses of melanomas continues to rise significantly, at a rate faster than that of any of the seven most common cancers. Men over age 50 show the greatest increase in deaths from melanoma, and it is one of only three cancers with an increasing mortality rate for men.
Additionally, a new study found that driving may raise the risk for skin cancer on the left side of the body. Researchers at the St. Louis University Medical School analyzed the records of 890 patients and found that almost 56 percent of skin cancers in men on the head and neck occurred on the left side. Researchers suspect that the increase in skin cancers on the left is linked to the additional ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure automobile drivers experience on that side of the body.
“Melanoma is a concern for everyone, but adults over age 40, especially men, have the highest annual exposure to UV radiation,” said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. “The sun’s UV radiation is associated with about 90 percent of all skin cancers. We need to work harder to reach men with our messages, and give them the tools they need to protect themselves.”
This Father’s Day, The Skin Cancer Foundation suggests giving dads the gift of sun protection. Here are some great gift ideas to ensure that he’ll be safe in the sun this summer, and all year long:
-Clothes: Whether Dad is barbecuing on the deck or out on the golf course, he needs to be sun-safe. While all clothes offer some sun protection, dark or bright colors absorb more UV radiation than paler shades, and denser fabrics, like denim or canvas, are more protective than sheer or loosely woven cloth. Another option: treat Dad to specially made sun protective clothing.
-Hats: Sorry, sports fans: baseball caps (and sun visors) do not provide enough protection, because they only protect the face and scalp. Ideally a hat should have a brim extending at least three inches all the way around to shade not just the face and scalp but the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
-Sunscreen: Dad should be wearing a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15+ everyday. For extended time outdoors, SPF 30 or higher may be advisable. Sunscreens should have some combination of these UVA-blocking ingredients: avobenzone, ecamsule (a.k.a. Mexoryl ), oxybenzone, titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide.
-Sunglasses: Give Dad the gift of great shades. Wraparound sunglasses that block 99-100 percent of the sun’s UV rays effectively shield both eyes and the surrounding skin, helping prevent serious conditions such as cataracts and melanomas of the eye and eyelid.
-Window film: Make Dad happy with a gift for his car. Now you can purchase transparent UVA-filtering film for vehicles’ side and back window glass. It screens out almost 100 percent of UV without reducing visibility.
Remind dads to seek the shade between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you want to be assured that a sun protection product is safe and effective, look for products that have earned The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Seal of Recommendation.