Teenage sunburns linked to adult cancer

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Oh boy, I hope he’s wearing sunscreen.

Beach lovers and hikers have been counting down the days until summer break, when they can finally feel the rays of that sweet Sun on their skin. If this sounds like you, be warned: researchers have found that too much sun exposure in youth is linked to melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer.

Melanoma is a cancer that’s caused by malfunctions with melanocytes – the cells in our skin that produce color. You can see this for yourself by looking at a mole, which is simply just a cluster of grouped melanocytes. If these cells get severely damaged, however, say by experiencing too many sunburns at a young age, they can grow wildly out of control and develop into cancer. All in all, melanoma kills at least 8,000 Americans every year. According to a new experiment, it may be caused by getting too many sunburns as a child.

For the study, researchers collected data on about 109,000 women over 20 years. The experimenters kept close tabs on the subjects’ medical history, tanning habits, moles, and sunburn experiences. After crunching the numbers and facts, the scientists realized that women who had developed at least five blistering sunburns as teenagers were more likely to develop melanoma and other forms of skin cancer later in life.

If this isn’t enough to convince you to slather on sunscreen before going outside, at least walk in the shade as often as possible! While the ultraviolet rays from the Sun might feel pleasant and provide vitamin D to your skin, too much can definitely be a bad thing.

Featured image courtesy of Carissa Rogers.