A study of over 100,000 U.S. Caucasian women who were followed for 20 years confirms what we’ve long suspected; that too many sunburns early in life increases one’s risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The study, published recently in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, showed that women who reported having had at least five blistering sunburns during their teenage years had almost a 3-fold greater risk of developing a melanoma over the next 20 years, compared to women who never were sunburned in their teenage years.

Interestingly, the same did not hold true for older women who routinely exposed themselves to high amounts of ultraviolet radiation. Although their risks of several other types of less deadly skin cancers were increased by increased exposure to ultraviolet radiation, the risk of melanoma did not increase significantly.

Bottom line; it is particularly important that children and teenagers should be protected from sunburns. Skin damage early in life sets the stage for melanoma, and nobody needs that when protecting yourself and your children is so easy these days.

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