Melanoma risk continues in the winter

Outdoor activities, indoor tanning can increase your risk


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Seventy-six thousand people will be diagnosed with melanoma this year. Ten thousand of them will die, and one in 54 will develop the disease in their lifetime. It is a very dangerous form of skin cancer, and the rates of it are going up.

Typically, you think of skin cancer and melanoma as a summer problem, but the sun is in the sky every day, and even during the winter, a lot of people ski or participate in other outdoor activities. It is important, therefore, to put on sunscreen, and to cover up as much of your skin as possible.

Ray Potter of Westfield told 22News that he takes precautions no matter what time of year it is.

“When we go out, you probably notice that I have a hat on. That protects me, and I also wear protective sunglasses, and of course, during the summertime especially, we do lather up with heavy-duty intensive sunscreen protection,” Potter said.

The best sunscreen will be at least SPF 30, with both UVA and UVB broad spectrum protection. Dr. Ira Helfand of Family Medical Center in Springfield told 22News that some people are at a greater risk.

“People who have a family history of melanoma, people who have more than 25 moles on your skin, people who have atypical, funny-looking moles- are all at higher risk. People with certain coloration, red hair, blonde hair, very fair skin, are at higher risk for melanoma,” Helfand said.

Be sure to wear protective clothing, like a hat and sunglasses; and not just during the summer. The sun can be especially strong reflecting off the snow.

Finally, avoid tanning beds. They provide you with the same harmful radiation that comes from the sun.