Did you know that melanoma kills 1 American every hour? That’s about 9,000 deaths in a year!
The worst part? Melanoma is making more victims than ever. In the past 30 years, the number of melanoma cases kept rising up. Young women have it worst. Maybe it’s because we like to tan, but we’re melanoma’s fave victims.
How do you keep yourself safe from it? The first step is sunscreen. The second is knowledge.
Yep, knowledge. Cos you can’t protect yourself from melanoma if you keep believing all the myths around it. Like, tanning beds are safer than outdoor tanning or melanoma only appears as a black mole. These are BS.
So here they are, 4 melanoma myths busted:
Melanoma Myth #1. If you avoid the sun, you won’t get melanoma
If only it were that easy! It’s true that prolonged and unprotected sun exposure increases your chances of getting melanoma. Even one bad sunburn as a child is enough.
But melanoma is a cancer and cancer doesn’t discriminate. Every know and then, it chooses a victim that carefully avoided sun exposure all her life.
Let’s say you avoid the sun like the plague. Well, if one of your relatives had melanoma, you’re still more at risk of getting it, too. Heck, if ANY type of cancer runs in your family, you’re more at risk of melanoma.
That explains why anyone, at any age, can get melanoma. Or why melanomas show up in areas that aren’t usually exposed to the sun. Like the inside of the mouth, the eye, and even the vagina!
Still, this is not a good reason to spend hours outdoors without sunscreen. If anything, it’s a good reason not to carelessly increase your chances of getting it!
Melanoma Myth #2: Tanning beds are safer than outdoor tanning
There is no such thing as a safe tan. I repeat, there is no such thing as a safe tan.
Do you know what a tan really is? It’s your body’s natural self-mechanism against UV rays.
Here’s how it works: as harmful UV rays hit your skin, your body produces more melanin to lessen the damage. If you see your skin’s getting darker, it means some of the damage has already happened.
Your body is telling you, “get out of here, now before things get worse and I get wrinkles or cancer!” Listen to it!
Your body doesn’t care if UV radiation comes from the sun or a tanning bed. Both damage your skin and leave you at risk of developing melanoma.
I know what you’re going to say: “But, Gio, everyone knows you can’t burn in a tanning bed. That makes them safer, right?”
Nope. You can’t burn in a tanning bed because UVB rays give you sunburns. Tanning beds emit mostly UVA rays, the ones responsible for premature wrinkles and dark spots.
Both UVA and UVB rays, though, give you cancer. So even if you’re ok with swapping sunburns for wrinkles, you’re still at danger of skin cancer. Avoid!
Related: 5 Tanning Beds Myths Busted!
Melanoma Myth #3: Melanoma only appears as an ugly black mole
I wish! It’d be so much easier to diagnose.
It’s true that a lot of melanomas look like ugly black moles. But melanoma can appear in any brown or tan shades. It can even develop in moles that have hairs.
So how can you tell if you’re dealing with melanoma or just a harmless mole? Easy: keep an eye on any mole different from the others on your body or that has changed overtime.
Better yet, go to a doctor for a full body exam once a year. Sure, it’s embarrassing but it can save your life.
Melanoma doesn’t have to be deadly. If caught in time, you can expect a fully recovery.
Melanoma Myth #4: Sunscreen can prevent melanoma
This isn’t false, but it’s not 100% true either. Hear me out:
Sunscreen can help prevent melanomas by shielding you from UV radiation. But as we’ve seen in myth 1, even people who don’t spend too much time in the sun can get melanoma.
You see, like any cancer, melanoma begins when one or more genes in a cell are mutated. This mutation can have several causes. Sometimes, it happens because you’ve spent too much time in the sun without sunscreen. Or because you’re a smoker. Or you simply live in a polluted city.
Other times, the culprit is more insidious. You can get cancer, including melanoma, simply because your parents passed “bad, mutated genes” to you.
That’s why even healthy people who do everything right – eat plenty of veggies and no sugar, exercise daily, don’t smoke and wear sunscreen – can get cancer, including melanoma. Sometimes, your genes are stacked against you.
If you have a genetic risk of developing melanoma, sunscreen won’t help. But by wearing it, you can reduce your chances your genes will get triggered.
Reduce isn’t the same as eliminate but I’ll still take it. When your genes are stacked against you, doing everything right is even more important.
Do you know any other melanoma tips that need busting? Share them in the comments below.