Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Few Minding Dangers of Sun Exposure Skin Cancer on the Rise

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Few Minding Dangers of Sun Exposure Skin Cancer on the Rise

Article excerpt

Joe Reynolds was very athletic growing up. The fair-skinned redhead used to spend hours outside playing in the sun.

Now the athletic director and head football coach at Fletcher High School has battled skin cancer for nearly 20 years.

In the sunshine state, 3,000 new skin cancer cases will be diagnosed this year. Florida ranks second in the number of people with skin cancer behind California, according to the American Cancer Society.

Despite the increase in the usage of sunscreen in the last decade, the number of skin cancer victims is increasing.

With the official first day of summer behind us and Independence Day around the corner, more people are exposing themselves to the sun's dangerous rays.

Dermatologists say melanoma and other skin cancers may take 20 years or more to develop after excessive sun exposure.

Gary Bowers, an associate professor of clinical surgery at University Medical Center, said as a child he saw many people staying out in the sun all day.

"When I was growing up I never heard of sunscreen. I grew up in the '50s and '60s when sun worshiping was very popular," said Bowers. "We didn't wear protection and now many are paying the price."

Melanoma on the rise

Since 1973, the number of melanoma cases, the deadliest form of skin cancer, has doubled, according to the American Cancer Society.

Melanoma is caused by excessive exposure to the sun and much of it can be prevented by avoiding the sun's dangerous ultraviolet rays, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Even some medical experts now are divided on the importance of using sunscreen. Some argue that it is simply too soon to prove the lotions are helping since No. 15 and stronger sunscreens have been in wide use only since the mid-1980s.

Two sunscreens

Physical blockers and chemical absorbers are the two types of sunscreen.

Physical blockers reflect or scatter harmful ultraviolet rays. These thick, opaque creams block all light rays from the skin.

Chemical absorbers are aromatic compounds that absorb ultraviolet rays.

The higher the number on a sunscreen bottle, the greater the protection. …

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