Skin cancer risk under the Mediterranean sun

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Higher risk of skin cancer under the Mediterranean sun

The vacation season has begun and many Germans are drawn to the Mediterranean or other southern regions. Sun-seekers should be careful, however, because the stronger the radiation, the greater the risk of sunburn. This also increases the risk of skin cancer. However, if you listen to the advice of experts, you can minimize the risks.

One in five German citizens affected Every fifth German citizen will develop skin cancer in the course of his life, according to a study by the Charité Skin Tumor Center in Berlin. Around 250,000 new cases of the early form of light skin cancer and 15,000 of black skin cancers are assumed each year. Jessica Hassel, head of the dermatological outpatient clinic at the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) in Heidelberg, thinks it is a misconception that the sun is good for the psyche: "This is only true for people with real depression." But if some safety precautions are taken nothing speaks against relaxing in the sun.

Unprotected in the sun is the most common reason for skin cancer The most common and most important reason for skin cancer is the habit of being exposed to the sun without protection. Other factors such as skin type, hereditary predisposition or number of birthmarks also play a role, but sunbathing is at the top of the risk scale. Above all, the number of sunburns before the age of 15 is significant, since the skin will then be damaged much more. According to a survey by the European Skin Cancer Foundation (ESCF), one in five kindergarten children has suffered from sunburn once in their life. Beate Volkmer, cell biologist at the Buxtehude Dermatology Center and member of the Dermatological Prevention Working Group, said: "Children's skin is not only more delicate, but also differently structured than the skin of adults: the cells relevant for the development of skin cancer are closer to the surface."

High sun protection factor, especially for fair-skinned people How long you can expose yourself to the sun depends, among other things, on the type of skin and the sun cream used. The skin under the Mediterranean sun blushes after five to ten minutes in white-skinned, red-haired people, after ten to 20 minutes in light-blonde people and darker skin types can spend up to half an hour unprotected in the sun. Sunscreen is generally advised when sunbathing. The sun protection factor is of particular importance. For example, if a person's skin turns red after ten minutes, a sun protection factor 30 would increase the time they can spend in the sun by thirty times, or five hours. "We recommend that you do not exhaust this maximum time, but be satisfied with around 60 percent," says Beate Volkmer.

Avoid the midday heat and also protect it in the shade. The UV radiation is most intense at lunchtime between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and therefore you should stay in the shade or indoors. You can also protect yourself with a hat and light clothing. Polyester and blends of polyester, followed by wool, silk and nylon, offer far better protection than cotton, linen or viscose. Dark colors seem to be particularly effective at blocking harmful radiation, and you shouldn't forget to protect yourself even in the shade, as up to 70 percent of UV radiation still reaches the skin.

Good things don't have to be expensive In order to protect yourself sufficiently against sunburn, you shouldn't be frugal when using sun milk. For an adult, about three tablespoons are required per cream. Refreshment is necessary every two hours or after swimming, drying or heavy sweating. Be careful with the total time you spend in the sun. Re-applying cream does not prolong it, it starts with the first layer of cream and depends on factors such as the sun protection factor or skin type. In order to be able to apply cream often enough, one does not have to resort to expensive products, recent tests by the Stiftung Warentest have shown that cheap sunscreen products did particularly well.

Sunscreen alone does not prevent skin cancer. Skin cancer experts, like Ms. Volkmer, only place sunscreen in third place to avoid skin damage from the sun. Shades and clothing would rank higher. She says: "Sun creams have proven to be very good cancer protection in the laboratory." Various studies have shown that they do not meet this requirement in practice. This could be related to the fact that the required amount of cream of at least 40 milliliters per cream every two hours could not be implemented in everyday life.

Don't be frivolous On the beach, it is normal for most people to apply lotion. However, some do not consider that sunburn lurks in the water. The sun's rays are reflected and intensified in the water. It is often too late to notice how irritated the skin is in the cool water. The use of sun milk also leads some users to extend the sun baths beyond the time that would be possible without risk. From this, scientists also explained the more common melanomas. The weather in Germany apparently also contributes to the careless handling of the sun. According to a survey, families would eagerly apply cream on vacation, paying special attention to children. At home in their own garden or on the playground, however, many would treat it too carelessly. (ad)

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