July 6, 2006
Contact: Jerry Carey
Phone: (856) 566-6171
UMDNJ Dermatologist Warns Young Women
of Danger on the Beach This Summer
NEW BRUNSWICK - That sleek, bronzed tan that many young women seek on the beach each summer looks fashionable, but a UMDNJ dermatologist is warning young women that it may also be deadly.
“Melanoma is now the leading cause of cancer death among women between 25 and 30 years old,” said Dr. Amy Pappert of the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. “Years ago, we would expect to see this disease later in adulthood, but now we’re seeing melanomas more and more among women in their mid-20s.”
According to Dr. Pappert, genetics and environment combine to determine the risk of skin cancer. An individual normally needs both factors to be at risk for melanoma, which is the most deadly form of skin cancer.
“But you can also get enough sun exposure to make up for the lack of a family history and develop melanoma without the genetic predisposition,” Dr. Pappert said. “The damage from sun exposure is cumulative. Each time you tan, you’re adding more damage to your skin and increasing your cancer risk.”
Dangerous sun exposure can also occur in unlikely places. Because of the thinner atmosphere and higher elevation, the sun’s rays in the mountains may actually be stronger than on the beach. Dr. Pappert also pointed out that a daily 15 to 20 minute lunchtime walk while at work can add up to one or two hours of midday sun exposure over the course of a week.
To protect against the risk of melanoma, Dr. Pappert advises the following:
- Stay out of the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If on vacation, use these hours for shopping, going to restaurants or taking a well-deserved nap.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and clothing that protects against the sun’s rays.
- Wear sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 (the higher the better).
- Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours when outdoors.
- Avoid tanning booths because their harmful ultraviolet rays are more intense, and exposure occurs more quickly.
- Don’t believe the myth of a “base tan.” An existing tan may make sunburn less likely, but offers minimal protection against additional damage that could add up to skin cancer.
To arrange an interview with Dr.Pappert, please contact Jerry Carey, University News Service, at (856) 566-6171 or (973) 972-3000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.