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Melanoma Skin Cancer: Family Members’ Risk is High, Study Says

By Cassie Ryan
Epoch Times Staff
Created: February 22, 2011 Last Updated: February 24, 2011
Related articles: Health » Environment & Health
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A man applies sun tan lotion during a visit to the beach June 20, 2006 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A man applies sun tan lotion during a visit to the beach June 20, 2006 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

People with a familial risk of melanoma skin cancer are not protecting themselves from high levels of sun exposure, according to a study published in the journal BioMedCentral on Feb. 21.

Researchers from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) surveyed 545 participants via telephone to evaluate how demographic, medical, psychological, social, and knowledge factors correlate with sun protection and sunbathing practices in first-degree relatives (FDRs) of melanoma patients.

The scientists found that FDRs who practiced higher sun protection had a higher level of education and greater concerns about “photo-aging” from harmful sunlight, amongst other correlations.

Those FDRs who practiced higher sunbathing tended to be younger females, who used sunscreen less and perceived more benefits from sunbathing, such as a good suntan.

The research team concluded that intervention might be necessary for family members at risk of melanoma to change habits and perceptions.

"To reduce the incidence of melanoma, we need to reduce the perceived benefits of sunbathing and to increase the use of sun protection,” said lead researcher Dr. Sharon Manne, according to Cancer Research UK.

Jessica Harris, senior health information officer at the UK charity said that people at risk can still enjoy a safer lifestyle when it comes to sun exposure.

"Enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sunburn reduces the risk of skin cancer," Harris said. "Sunburn is a clear sign your skin has been damaged by the sun's UV rays."

She noted that "having a family history of melanoma increases the risk of the disease," meaning that it is important for relatives of people who have the cancer, people with fair skin, fair or red hair, and with many moles or freckles to "know how they can lower the chances of developing skin cancer."

See Does Sun Exposure Really Cause Malignant Melanoma?

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