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Expert: Skin cancer cases will increase sharply in the next few years
What became popular in society in the 1970s and 1980s as a beauty ideal is today the reason for numerous new skin cancer cases. We are talking about ruthless sunbathing. Now the trend is taking revenge with rapidly increasing cases of skin cancer. However, according to experts, this is just the beginning. In the next 30 years, there will be a significant increase in all types of skin cancer.
The 50th conference of the German Dermatological Society (DDG) is currently taking place in Berlin. On this occasion, renowned experts will give lectures on topics related to the skin. The experts at the conference are concerned about the rising number of skin cancers in Germany.
Skin cancer: the legacy of the 70s
Dirk Schadendorf is a dermatologist at Essen University Hospital. "We will now see the effects of the 70s and 80s, in which tan was chic", emphasized the specialist on Thursday, May 2nd at the DDG conference. In these times there was significantly less awareness of sun protection and the sun creams also had lower sun protection factors. As Schadendorf reports, there are now over 300,000 new diagnoses of skin cancer per year in Germany. Around 3,000 people die of it every year.
White and black skin cancer
For the most part, it is white skin cancer, which is usually easy to treat. But the cases of black skin cancer, malignant melanoma, are also increasing. With around 23,000 cases per year, it is the third most common skin cancer.
Awareness of skin cancer is growing - but not enough!
The awareness that unsparing sunbathing is hazardous to health has increased today, according to Schadendorf, but there is still room for improvement. "There is only a limited change in behavior," criticizes the skin expert. For example, sunscreen is often applied too thinly and not often enough. The actual sun protection factor is rarely achieved. "A pack of sun protection may last for two weeks per person, but not for three summers for an entire family," says the specialist.
Children's skin is particularly at risk
"The most immature skin in childhood and adolescence is most at risk from genetic skin changes caused by UV radiation," the DDG experts wrote in a press release to the conference. Especially in the period up to the age of 18, damage from UV radiation often occurs, which can degenerate into skin cancer. Because children's skin is many times thinner than the skin of adults. The young skin could not yet produce enough pigments to protect the body from UV rays.
Early sunburns are pure poison for the skin
As the DDG team reports, the UV-sensitive stem cells in children are also much closer to the skin surface. They are exposed to the sun's rays much more intensely. If it turns red, the damage has already occurred because the typical red color of the skin is a delayed inflammatory reaction. The bad thing about it, according to the DDG experts, is that sunburn permanently damages the skin's repair mechanisms. The skin never forgets such UV damage. The radiation can lead to permanent changes in the genetic material of the skin cell, which can degenerate a cell even after years. Over time, this radiation damage would add up and the development of skin cancer would be more likely.
How much sun do we need?
However, avoiding sunlight completely is neither necessary nor sensible. After all, the sun's rays provide us with vital vitamin D, which is responsible, among other things, for strong bone structure. "Half an hour of sunshine a day is enough to provide our body with enough vitamin D," said the technician health insurance company in a message. Above all, you should avoid the particularly aggressive midday sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. In addition, the skin should be largely protected by clothing and sunscreen with a high sun protection factor. As a rule of thumb, the lighter the skin, the less UV radiation it can tolerate. For more information, read also: Skin cancer screening: With the ABCDE rule you can detect harmful changes. (vb)