How Climate Change Is Causing Increased Skin Cancer Rates

On the beach

The negative effects of global warming spread way beyond the limits of the destruction of the ozone layer and the extreme weather phenomena we’ve witnessed over the past decade. This climate change has led to various health issues such as the increasing rates of skin cancer. According to official estimations, one person dies of skin cancer every 54 minutes, almost 90,000 new cases of melanoma being diagnosed this year alone in the USA. Apparently the number of skin cancer cases over the pas three decades is bigger than the number of all other types of cancer, combined.

The thinning of the ozone layer is the main culprit, as it allows UV rays to penetrate through the atmosphere. As they aren’t attenuated by the ozone, they hit the surface of the earth at a much bigger intensity, being therefore more harmful than ever before. Studies have shown that UV rays are one of the main risk factors for skin cancer. This means that the warmer the climate, the higher the incidence of this disease. The latitudes receiving more sun are the most exposed, hence the explosion of skin cancers among these local populations.

Most people aren’t aware of the fact that the solar protection they’ve always used is no longer as effective as it once was. As a matter of fact, wearing a high SPF cream whenever going to the beach to get some suntan is no longer enough, in terms of protection against melanoma. The face, cleavage, arms and legs have to be covered by clothing items at all times, and wearing a high protection factor cream should be mandatory during sunny days, all year round.

People who have jobs that imply spending a lot of time outdoors are at higher risk of developing skin cancer than the general population. Most of the time, they need to work under the scorching sun of summer afternoons, exposing their skin to the dangerous UV radiation. This is why employers should supply these workers the adequate protective equipment, including skin creams with high SPF, hats and sunglasses, and free skin cancer screening. Besides, these companies shouldn’t allow their employees to work during noon, when the sun is the most harmful.

The regions of the globe where the sun doesn’t shine too much aren’t a problem, as temperatures here are lower anyway, determining people to wear hats and long sleeves when they get out. However, climate change is determining the shrinking of these colder regions and the expansion of the warmer areas. This means more and more people are exposed to the direct action of sun rays, triggering an exponential increase of skin cancer rates. Very few people are aware of the daunting action of sunlight on their skin, especially if the temperature isn’t too high.

Although the practice of indoor tanning also plays a role in the increased rates of skin cancer, there’s no doubt about the fact that climate change is the major factor that has contributed to this terrifying evolution. Stopping the global warming and reversing the trend should be the main priority of humankind, if we want our children to enjoy this planet as we’ve known it.