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Young athletes ignore skin cancer risk

e a little color you're perceived as being healthy or better looking.

"The problem is that a tan is a bad response. It's the body's last attempt to protect itself against ultraviolet (UV) light damage and the subsequent mutations that UV rays induce in the skin cells. It's your skin's way of saying please stop the madness!"

Forty-six percent of 139 athletes who gave reasons for not using sunscreen blamed lack of availability, and 33 percent thought they didn't need it because of various misconceptions. Others said they didn't consider the weather hot enough for sunburn.

However, said Dr. Adams, only 1 percent of the athletes said they didn't use sunscreen because it hurt their eyes, commonly thought to be the reason they ignore it.

The American Academy of Dermatology Web site recommends avoiding sun exposure from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., "exactly the times when most teams are out practicing, be they soccer players, long-distance runners, or tennis players," Dr. Adams pointed out. "They're getting an enormous amount exposure to UV light."

Outdoor athletes are also in double jeopardy, because sweating exacerbates their risk, Dr. Adams said. Perspiration on the skin lowers what's called the minimal erythema dose, the lowest UV exposure needed to turn the skin barely pink.

"You've already set yourself up for trouble by not using sunscreen," Dr. Adams said, "and now by sweating you're making it worse. Think about that the next time you see all those men jogging around town without their shirts on.

"Nearly 20 years ago when I was in college running at 3 p.m. and getting burned and tanned, there wasn't as much knowledge about the risks as we have now, and there weren't as many sunscreen products--especially for sports enthusiasts.

"Today there are plenty, so there's no excuse for this risky behavior, on or off the sports field."

Skiers have it even worse, Dr. Adams says. Not only is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. prime
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Contact: David Bracey
david.bracey@uc.edu
513-558-4559
University of Cincinnati
15-Aug-2005


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