Icy truth about skin cancer

Always protect your skin, no matter what the weather is like.

Although Minnesota is in the depth of winter, it is as important as ever to be aware of the dangers the sun poses to health. It is easy to forget that the sun damages skin even without burning it.

New advances by the Applied Genetics Inc. Dermatics, including the so-far successful testing of Dimericine, show that the chances of winning the fight against skin cancer are improving. The drug is said to repair past DNA damage and even recent damage, helping skin cells reproduce in a healthy manner. The drug has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 20 percent of Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime. For women, it is classified as the fastest-growing cancer, and among 25- to 29-year-old women it is the second-most common cancer.

Many people think they are not at risk for skin cancer because they do not use tanning beds. However, almost everyone is at risk.

Most cancers develop late in life because of repeated sun exposure for short periods of time. This means the time you stand at a bus stop, the time you spend walking between classes or sitting outside all adds up. Less than 10 minutes of sun exposure a day for a year adds up to equal the amount of damage done lying on the beach for a couple of days on spring break.

During spring break many pale and burnable members of the University community will travel to warmer regions. Many will get burned even if they aren’t lying around on a beach all day. All outdoor activities put one at risk.

It is most important to not allow thoughts of skin-cancer prevention to escape your thoughts during any season. Wear sunscreen daily if you can, especially on the face, which is the most exposed part of the body. Also, look for future advances in skin protection. Lotions with twice as much sun protection factor as in the United States already are available in Europe.