When was the last time you went outside and put sunscreen all over your body, outside of a beach day? For most people, regular SPF protection on your face is a no-brainer. But a new study by the medical research nonprofit Mayo Clinic makes a strong case for a regular all-body sunscreen routine.
As reported by Allure, a Mayo Clinic-led research team discovered that new diagnoses of two types of skin cancer are increasing at pretty startling rates. Between 2000 and 2010, new basal cell carcinoma (BCC) diagnoses rose 145%, and new squamous cell/cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) diagnoses rose 263%.
When compared to earlier decades of skin cancer research, women across the board bore longer-term increases in carcinoma diagnoses:
Women 30-49 experienced the greatest increase in BCC diagnoses; whereas, women 40-59 and 70-79 experienced the greatest increase in SCC.
Meanwhile, the rate of new diagnoses for SCC for men dropped between 2000 and 2010, but rates of new diagnoses for BCC remained similar to earlier decades’.
BCCs and SCCs are the first and second most prevalent form of skin cancer, respectively. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, BCCs look like “open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps, or scars,” while SCCs look like “scaly red patches, open sores, elevated growths with a central depression, or warts; they may crust or bleed.”
Unlike rarer but scarier forms of skin cancer like melanomas, BCCs and SCCs usually don’t spread. But with all skin cancers, the key is not only early detection of potentially cancerous skin changes but also prevention.
If there’s one absolute skin care rule: no tanning, artificial or otherwise. When interviewed by Allure, Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, an Associate Clinical Professor at the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center laid down some tanning real talk:
“Every time you get tan the skin is saying ‘S.O.S! I’m being damaged so I’ll get darker.’ There is NO level of tanning that is safe and does not cause damage to the skin. Getting a tan is getting skin damage, and that damage can come back to bite you in the form of skin cancer.”
She and other skin experts recommend regular applications of sunscreen (every two or three hours), hats, and sunglasses, as well as seeking shade during the sun’s strongest hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (And, just because it’s not sunny out, doesn’t mean that the sun’s rays aren’t still hitting your skin.)
Of course, this isn’t a call to arms to never go in the sun again. But there’s no harm in, and much to be gained by, staying proactive and informed about your skin.