Study: Sunbathing more dangerous than driving a car
Monday, July 13, 2015, 4:33 PM - If you thought that getting behind the wheel of a car was more dangerous than heading outside on a sunny day without applying sunscreen, you might need to think again. A new study commissioned by the spray tan company AURA suggests that more people die from skin cancer than traffic accidents, leading the researchers to conclude sunbathing is more dangerous than driving.
The company compared the number of deaths from skin cancer and car accidents in 12 countries, including Canada.
The research was originally published in December 2014, but didn't start making headlines until earlier this month when it was picked up by several media outlets.
"Several national statistic authorities report only the melanoma statistics, thus excluding other skin cancer types such as basal and squamous cell carcinoma, which are not required to be notified to authorities," AURA writes.
"This means that in fact the skin cancer figures for several countries should be higher than stated."
Researchers say the number of melanoma cases in women aged 20 to 30 years has increased eight-fold.
There has been a four-fold increase in skin cancer cases for men in the same age group.
“Regardless the exact ratio, it is evident that skin cancer is a very relevant cause of death”, AURA says on its website.
“If you reflect at the mere numbers, you feel that when compared to traffic safety, skin safety is treated absolutely disproportionally in our daily lives.”
According to the skin cancer foundation, a "blistering" sunburn acquired during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person's risk of developing melanoma later in life.
SUNSCREEN SAFETY TIPS
Now that warm weather is here, experts say it's important to take precautions against sun exposure.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, skin cancer one of the fastest-rising cancers in the country. Finding the right sunscreen is an important first step in prevention.
SPF 15 blocks 93 percent of UVB rays, while SPF 30 blocks 97 percent and SPF 50 blocks 98 percent. Health care advisers recommend sunscreens that provide 'broad spectrum protection.'
This means the product protects against UVB rays as well as UVA rays, which can cause cancer and wrinkles.
Here are some more sunscreen safety tips, courtesy of Health Canada:
- Look for products that won't wash off in the water. Scan the label for claims the product stays on in water (key terms are 'water resistant' or 'very water resistant').
- Read the directions.
- Apply liberally. Use the recommended amount of sunscreen, as per the product label.
- Apply it early. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before heading outside and reapplied 20 minutes after going outside. Re-apply at least every 2 hours after that. If you have been sweating or swimming, touch up more frequently.
- Protect babies: Do not apply sunscreen on babies less than 6 months of age. Instead, keep them out of the sun.
- Spot test. Patch test new sunscreen products on a small area of skin for several days prior to applying liberally on the skin. This can reduce the instance of a large-scale allergic reaction.