May 24, 2006
Contact: Tom Capezzuto
At UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
UMDNJ Dermatologist Warns That Children Are at Greatest Risk
of Contracting Melanoma From Over-Exposure to Sun
NEWARK—Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is usually diagnosed in adults, but sun exposure during childhood may lead to the development of this potentially deadly disease, according to a dermatologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
With the arrival of the Memorial Day holiday weekend, many swimmers and sun worshipers will flock to beaches and swim clubs in the metropolitan area. To avoid over-exposure to the sun and the potentially harmful effects of sunburn, such as melanoma, individuals should limit their time under the sun.
Melanoma is a malignant tumor of pigment-forming skin cells and may be triggered by over-exposure to the sun. The disease, which also may affect the eyes and mucous membranes, spreads quickly. Teenagers with problem skin, such as acne, are especially prone to sun burns because of the medications they may be taking, and are therefore also at risk of contracting the disease.
"Melanoma is preventable, but it has reached epidemic proportions in recent years," said Dr. Babar Rao, chief of the Department of Dermatology at the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick. "Children with fair complexions are particularly susceptible to damage from the sun's harmful rays, which could lead to the development of melanoma as an adult."
The safest times to be on the beach are prior to 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m. To avoid the risk of painful sunburn and potential of developing melanoma, don't forget these essentials for the beach:
• A sunscreen lotion that contains an SPF of 30 or more, which should be applied repeatedly on all exposed body parts. The sunscreen should provide both UVA and UVB protection.
• A shirt and pants, or towels to cover your torso and legs.
• A hat and umbrella for those who are fair-skinned.
• Sun glasses, because ultra-violet rays have been known to impair children’s vision and can contribute to early cataracts in older people.
• Lip balm with an SPF of at least 15 to prevent blisters.
• Bottled water or a sports drink to prevent heat exhaustion or dehydration.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Rao, call Tom Capezzuto at (973) 972-7273.