Ozarks Tonight: Sunburns are common and they increase the risk of Melanoma

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Mo — With summer here we are more likely to spend time outside in the sun, at the pool and the lakes around the Ozarks. And some of us probably already got a sunburn this summer.

In fact – more than one third of Americans will get a sunburn this year. And not only is it uncomfortable and you get an awkward tan line, there’s more bad news about it – and this is serious – getting just one sunburn can triple your risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, according to the CDC. And the number keeps rising while other types of cancer are decreasing. Melanoma is now the second most common cancer among teens between 15 and 19 years old. 

But there is hope and it starts with prevention. 

Jenifer Abreu talked to Autumn Bragg, oncology service line coordinator with CoxHealth, about the risks and how to best prevent skin cancer and skin damage. 

Bragg says tanning beds and the sun are both just as bad for your skin. 

She says sunscreen over SPF 30 have minimal difference in terms of how effectively they protect against UV B light. She says the key is to apply enough and often, every two hours specifically or even more if you have been swimming or sweating. 

She says you should wear sunscreen not only when going to sit out in the sun for long periods of time like at the pool or the lake, but that normal day to day life activities, like driving or walking can also expose your skin to the sun. 

Bragg laid out the ABC’s of melanoma – what to look for if you think you might be developing it. 

A – asymmetry. Moles should be symmetrical. If you were to divide them in half, both sides would be the same. 

B – Border. The borders should be smooth and eve, abnormal moles are not. 

C – Color. Bragg says one color is normal whatever that color is – brown, black, pink or reddish. but more than one color in one mole is abnormal. 

D – Diameter. Bragg says a mole should not be bigger than a pencil eraser. 

E – Evolution. it’s normal to have small moles, and they should be the same throughout your entire life. If they start changing that’s when you should go see your doctor. 

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