Many people think that is it possible to achieve a healthy tan, but this thought has been proven wrong. Overexpose to UV-A and UV-B rays from the sun lead to premature aging of the skin, as well as the possible formation of skin cancer, know as melanoma. An appearance of a tan is actually a stage of burning and damage to the skin. Although a tan may be desirable to many, the fact remains that more people need to be educated on the dangers of the suns harmful rays, and the possible health complications of overexposure.
There are three main types of skin cancer. These are malignant melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. While melanoma is the most life-threatening of the three, it is also the most common. Melanoma will usually appear as a large mole or lesion on the skin, and usually suddenly. It generally tends to appear on the lower-backs of men and the lower-legs of women, though in elderly, sun-damaged persons, it is also prone to forming on the head and neck. While treatment is very successful when caught in the early stages, waiting too long can dramatically decrease the success rate of treatments. Catching the cancer early can result in simply having the mole-looking cancer removed, but if a patient delays treatment for any reason the cancer may spread to other (possibly vital) organs such as the digestive tract, lungs, eyes, or lymph nodes.
The number of cases of melanoma in America is on the rise. According to the American Cancer Society, 6 in every 100,000 people had melanoma in 1973, but the rate has doubled to 12 in 100,000 in 1999. In 1998 alone, the disease claimed 7,300 people, which is a rate of one person every hour. Populations at a higher risk of developing skin cancer are those with strong sunlight all year round. Places such as Arizona have higher numbers of persons who develop skin cancers because they have a greater chance of overexposure to UV rays. Melanoma has been reported to be the most common form of cancer in America, and has also been shown to occur more frequently in superficial situations. Places such as tanning beds only emit UV-A rays, which is what causes skin to tan and was also once thought to be less harmful than UV-B rays. Research has now shown that it is the UV-A rays that actually aid in the formation of skin cancers.
There is also a percentage of the population who is held to be at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. It has recently been stated that short, intense exposure to the sun is a trigger for the formation of melanoma. Those who may spend the vast majority of their week indoors but go to the beach on the weekends or outside on vacations are much more likely to develop a skin cancer than those who spend regular time outdoors. There are also risk factors that put some people at a higher risk for developing skin cancers, as well.