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15 Skin Cancer Myths You Need to Stop Believing Right Now

Source: Reader’s Digest, May 2018

“A big skin cancer myth is that people who tan effortlessly without burning will not get skin cancer. That is absolutely false. We see cancer in patients of all skin types. Already having a dark tan, or dark skin that doesn’t appear to burn, is not enough to protect you,” says Monica L. Halem, MD, founder and medical director for the New York Dermatologic Surgery Cosmetic Laser Center. Tanning may look healthy, but it is always an indication of skin damage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tanning is the skin’s response to injury. Skin cells signal that they have become damaged by producing melanin (additional skin pigment). So the next time you decide to go for that gorgeous goddess look, consider a faux-glow instead.
Wrong. “One visit to an indoor tanning bed before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, by more than 50 percent,” says Joslyn M. Albright, MD, who specializes in surgical oncology, breast cancer, and melanoma at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Chicago. One study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology followed 73,494 female nurses for 20 years and found that tanning bed use increased the risk for three types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. As a result of this study and of others like it, the researchers concluded that policymakers should pass and enforce restrictions on the indoor tanning industry.
Your eyes can get sunburned, too, and they can develop ocular melanoma, a kind of cancer which forms in cells that produce pigment in or around your eyes. “Just as exposure to UV rays damage the skin in the form of sunburn, they can also harm the eyes or affect vision. However, 94 percent of people don’t realize the sun can be just as harmful to their eyes as it is to their skin,” says Ryan Parker, OD, optometrist and optometric consultant with Essilor of America.
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