Young athletes ignore skin cancer risk

CINCINNATI--Thousands of young athletes are at such high risk for developing skin cancer, a University of Cincinnati (UC) dermatologist says, he dreams of the day "when sunscreen is right up there in the locker room next to the Gatorade."

What's more says Brian Adams, MD, a sports medicine specialist at UC and a part-time high school coach, the risks are so high that sunscreen use should be compulsory in outdoor sports.

Dr. Adams says he applauds one rowing coach who benches any crew member who appears for practice sunburned. That, he believes, gets the message across.

According to the American Cancer Society, most of the more than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer diagnosed yearly in the United States are sun related. Melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, will account for about 59,600 cases of skin cancer in 2005 and about 7,800 of the 10,600 deaths due to skin cancer each year.

Unfortunately, says Dr. Adams, a study he did recently with medical student Erica Hamant revealed that most young athletes ignore the danger.

Reported in the August edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the study showed that 85 percent of 186 NCAA soccer players and cross-country runners at four Cincinnati-area colleges used no sunscreen during the previous seven practice days. Ninety-four percent admitted they used sunscreen on fewer than three days during the previous week.

"The NCAA has medical guidelines for wrestlers, football players and others," said Dr. Adams, "but using sunscreen in outdoor athletics, which is very, very important, just isn't part of the culture.

"The well documented consequences of not using sunscreen all point to the fact every locker room should have sunscreen right up there next to the Gatorade."

What is part of the culture, Dr. Adams laments, is "the tan."

Although a tan wasn't "hip" in earlier times, he said, "unfortunately today if you hav

Contact: David Bracey
University of Cincinnati

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