The American Academy of Dermatology defines melanoma as the most serious form of skin cancer and states that it is responsible for nearly 80% of skin cancer deaths in the United States (1). Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays is the major risk factor for most melanomas. Although sunlight is the major source of UV rays, sunlamps and tanning beds can also produce the radiation. The median age of diagnosis for melanoma is between 45 and 55 years, but a huge number of people below the age of 40 can also develop the condition.
UV radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that enriches the earth’s surface from the sun. There are three types of UV radiations; UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA radiation has the longest reach amongst the three and accounts for about 95% of the UV radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. Although they are not as prevalent, UVB rays are the harshest and are responsible for sunburns that normally lead to melanoma cancers. It is reported that getting a sunburn just once in two years, can triple your risk of developing melanoma skin cancer (2)! UVA rays are responsible for wrinkling and skin aging (3). UVC rays never reach the earth’s surface and are absorbed in the ozone layer.
Why Are Men at More Risk of Melanoma Cancers?
It’s a known fact that most men don’t take care of their skin as well as women do. Skincare regimes are marketed and most commonly shown and feminine activities. You hardly see a dude wearing sunscreen before facing the outdoors. Right? In addition, given the nature of men’s work (such as construction, mining, farming, and other field works), they are likely to be more exposed to UV radiation than women. This, among others, is the reason men are said to be three times more likely to have squamous cell cancers and two times more likely to have basal cell cancers than women (4). Men are also less likely than women to dine on healthy diets that have considerable sun-blocking effects.
How Men Can Protect Their Skin from Melanoma Skin Cancer
So, how can men take steps to protect themselves from this catastrophic skin condition? Remember, although melanoma accounts for only 1% of all skin cancers, it is responsible for the vast majority of skin cancer deaths. For ages 14-39, men are 55% more likely to die from melanoma than women in the same age bracket. It is estimated that over 6,300 men in the United States will die from melanoma skin cancer by the end of 2017 (5). Some of these statistics are the reason men should protect themselves against melanoma skin cancer.
If you follow these six tips to protect your skin from UV radiation, you’ll not only decrease chances of developing melanoma, but also premature skin aging and wrinkles. As we’ve said, the best way to protect yourself against UV rays is avoiding sun exposure especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, when the radiation is the most prevalent. Other effective ways include wearing sunscreen along with protective clothing with higher SPF and UPF values. You should also consider healthy diets that have nutrient compounds with free radical-fighting properties. Free radicals are a nasty set of molecules or atoms that may cause skin cancer. Think of these nutrients as your personal mini-martyrs that run around your body giving extra electrons to free radicals, and in the process protecting your healthy skin cells.