Are Redheads More Prone to Skin Cancer?

Everyone knows that redhead sunburn easier. But do they get skin cancer easier? New research indicates that the pigment in their skin may instigate cancer even if they don’t suffer from sunburns. As you may have heard, getting sunburns in childhood is a risk factor for skin cancer, even later in life.

Who is prone to sunburn? Of course if you have light colored eyes, hair and skin, you are at higher risk. This combination is frequent among redheads. Redheads have a different type of melanin than people with dark hair. Blondes even carry some of the same pigments as redheads.

Duke University said that the melanin in redheads is more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s UV rays. Redheads, under exposure to the sun, developed a reaction of oxidative stress. This is where damage to DNA and cells may occur and over time, form cancer. Research used UVA and UVB rays for testing. UVA can cause damage without burning.

Sunscreens protect against UVB, but its not been shown to help against UVA. Sure, some protection is there, but the FDA will need to set guidelines for consumers. It all boils down to this: wear sunscreen and put it on your kids.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Apply plenty of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher and reapply every 2 hours or as indicated on the bottle.
  2. Reapply after swimming, sweating, even drying with a towel.
  3. Apply even during cloudy days.
  4. Avoid the sun in the middle of the day. 10 and 4 is indoor time.
  5. Wear a hat, clothing and sunglasses.
  6. Take care of the kids. Overexposure early in life may lead to skin cancers later in life.

Even so, the FDA has a warning label:

“Warning -This product does not contain a sunscreen and does not protect against sunburn. Repeated exposure of unprotected skin while tanning may increase the risk of skin aging, skin cancer, and other harmful effects to the skin even if you do not burn.”

by Stuart Simpson

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