What is a risk factor?
A risk factor is anything that may increase a person's chance of developing a disease. It may be an activity, such as smoking, diet, family history, or many other things. Different diseases, including cancers, have different risk factors.
Although these factors can increase a person's risk, they do not necessarily cause the disease. Some people with one or more risk factors never develop the disease, while others develop disease and have no known risk factors.
But, knowing your risk factors to any disease can help to guide you into the appropriate actions, including changing behaviors and being clinically monitored for the disease.
Other Causes and Risk Factors For Skin Cancer
What does tanning do to the skin?
Tanning is the skin's response to ultraviolet (UV) light - a protective reaction to prevent further injury to the skin from the sun. However, tanning does not prevent skin cancer.
What are risk factors for skin cancer?
The following are possible risk factors for skin cancer:
People with a family history of skin cancer are generally at a higher risk of developing the disease. People with fair skin and a northern European heritage appear to be most susceptible.
Due to a reduction of ozone in the earth's atmosphere, the level of UV light today is higher than it was 50 or 100 years ago. Ozone serves as a filter to screen out and reduce the amount of UV light that we are exposed to. With less atmospheric ozone, a higher level of UV light reaches the earth's surface.
Other factors that contribute to skin cancer:
- multiple nevi (moles) or atypical moles
- exposure to coal and arsenic compounds
Ultraviolet light is stronger as elevation increases (because the thinner atmosphere at higher altitudes cannot filter UV as effectively as it does at sea level).
The rays of the sun are strongest near the equator.
- repeated exposure to x-rays
- scars from disease and burns
- immune suppression, such as in persons who have had organ transplants
- repeated unprotected exposure to the sun or artificial sunlight (e.g., tanning beds or lamps) with or without sunburn
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Online Resources of Skin Cancer
Disclaimer - This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information provided is intended to be informative and educational and is not a replacement for professional evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. © 2009 Staywell Custom Communications.