July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012
Sunscreen and Men

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Monday and I hope you had a safe and great weekend. It was another busy weekend for Dab the AIDS Bear. The bear was at World Pride in London and several events in the United States so stay tuned for slide shows featuring pics of Dab the AIDS Bear at the events.

On weekends, a lot of people like to go to the beach, have picnics or do other activities outside. The one thing all of these have in common is sun exposure. For some reason, men do not remember to use sunscreen as much as women do. Even my own partner has had melanoma and had to have a large area removed. So why is this?

Attention men: Before you head outdoors this summer, make sure you are wearing sunscreen. Because evidently, you need some reminding. (Ok, nagging.)

A new survey by the Skin Cancer Foundation finds that men donít seem to understand the risks of getting skin cancer.

Nearly 1 in 2 men surveyed said they had not applied sunscreen in the past 12 months, and only 32 percent considered themselves very knowledgeable about how to properly use it, the Dallas News reports.

Some misguided machismo may be to blame: Nearly two-thirds of men surveyed thought women needed sunscreen more because female skin is more sensitive to UV rays.

Guysí skin, they apparently believe, is somehow more impervious to sunburn and damage.

Except that itís not true. The photo at left dramatically illustrates what long-term exposure to the sun can do to a manís face. Itís from a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine on a 69-year-old truck driver whose face was exposed on one side to sun through the window glass for 28 years.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, men have more unprotected sun exposure over the years than women and they then develop more skin cancers as they age.

ďThe majority of people who get melanoma, for example, are white men over age 50 Ė and they discover such growths later than women do, when they are harder to treat,Ē says the foundation.

Part of the problem may be that the message about the importance of sunscreen protection is being directed at women, not men, says Alan Geller of the Boston University School of Medicine.

Gellerís team of researchers discovered that advertisements for sunscreen appear primarily in publications aimed at women. The researchers reviewed five years of advertising in 24 different magazines, finding that 77 percent of sunscreen ads were in womenís magazines.

On average, four sunscreen ads appeared in each womanís magazine, compared with less than one in every six issues of menís magazines.

However, a recent Australian study shows that when men hear information about skin protection, they follow it.

After a skin cancer information campaign was launched across 18 Australian communities, researchers found that menís screening rates went up in general, and the biggest increases were reported in men over the age of 50.

So, men, find a sunscreen lotion you like and start using it.

Oh, and donít forget a hat.

Even if you have carefully practiced sun safety all summer, it's important to continue being vigilant about your skin in fall, winter, and beyond. Throughout the year, you should examine your skin head-to-toe once a month, looking for any suspicious lesions. Self-exams can help you identify potential skin cancers early, when they can almost always be completely cured. First, for a successful self-exam, you obviously need to know what you're looking for. As a general rule, to spot either melanomas or non-melanoma skin cancers (such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), take note of any new moles or growths, and any existing growths that begin to grow or change significantly in any other way. Lesions that change, itch, bleed, or don't heal are also alarm signals.

It is so vital to catch melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, early that physicians have developed two specific strategies for early recognition of the disease: the ABCDEs and the Ugly Duckling sign.

It also would be a good idea to learn the warning signs of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The ABCDEs of Melanoma:

A- Asymmetry

If you draw a line through a mole, the two halves will not match.

B- Border

The borders of an early melanoma tend to be uneven. The edges may be scalloped or notched.

C - Color

Having a variety of colors is another warning signal. A number of different shades of brown, tan or black could appear. A melanoma may also become red, blue or some other color.

D- Diameter

Melanomas usually are larger in diameter than the size of the eraser on your pencil (1/4 inch or 6 mm), but they may sometimes be smaller when first detected.

E- Evolving

Any change ó in size, shape, color, elevation, or another trait, or any new symptom such as bleeding, itching or crusting ó points to danger.

Now you know your ABDCEs of melanoma. Don't be a victim... use sunscreen and have a safe and great summer.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab