How Flip-Flops, Baseball Caps Can Raise Your Skin Cancer Risk

May 21, 2009 by Perry Drake

(PhysOrg.com) -- Cheap, convenient and casual, baseball caps and flip-flops have acquired a trendy charm. Those qualities have made them must-wear accessories for teens, outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners or anyone trying to keep cool during the sweltering days of summer.

However, flip-flips and baseball caps could pose a hidden health risk from skin cancer, said Dr. Anthony Peterson, assistant professor of medicine, dermatology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.

"Most skin cancers occur on the parts of the body that are repeatedly exposed to the sun," said Peterson, who is also director of Loyola's division. "The problem with flip-flops and baseball caps is that they leave the tips of the ears and the tops of the feet dangerously exposed to sun damage. The potential for skin cancers in those areas are real, especially on the tips of the ears."

Peterson said that before the popularity of flip-flops and baseball caps, people venturing out on sunny days traditionally wore broad-rimmed hats and sneakers or shoes that afforded a large measure of protection to the tops of their feet and tips of their ears.

"But now those areas of their bodies have very little protection," Peterson said. "Combine that with the fact that most people using sunscreen frequently overlook those parts of their bodies when applying it. From my point of view as a dermatologist, that's not a very good combination."

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society. Most skin cancers are classified as nonmelanoma, usually occurring in either basal cells or squamous cells. These cells are located at the base of the outer layer of the skin or cover the internal and external surfaces of the body.

More than 1 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are found in this country each year, according to the Cancer Society. Most of those cases are considered to be sun-related. They develop on sun-exposed areas of the body, like the face, ear, neck, lips, and the backs of the hands. Depending on the type, they can be fast- or slow-growing, but they rarely spread to other parts of the body.

Melanoma is a cancer that begins in the melanocytes -- the cells that produce the skin coloring or pigment known as melanin. Melanin helps protect the deeper layers of the skin from the harmful effects of the sun.

Melanoma is almost always curable when it is detected in its early stages. Although melanoma accounts for only a small percentage of skin cancer, it is far more dangerous than other skin cancers, and it causes the majority of skin cancer deaths.

You can prevent all forms of , including melanoma, by avoiding overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

* Use a sunscreen with an SPF of least 15 daily. Wearing sunscreen in the early fall is just as important, too.

* Wear protective clothing outdoors, including a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants.

* Stay out of the sun during the midday hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

* Use a higher SPF when at higher elevations.

* Avoid sunbathing and tanning salons. UV rays from artificial sources such as tanning beds and sunlamps are just as dangerous as those from the sun.

* Set a good example for your children by always using and wearing protective clothing.

Provided by Loyola University Health System (news : web)

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jsovine
3.3 / 5 (7) May 21, 2009
"Stay out of the sun during the midday hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)"

Paranoid much?
MrFred
5 / 5 (4) May 21, 2009
If you look in the mirror and see you have two long pointy teeth, you too may want to stay out of the sun...
JuneR
5 / 5 (5) May 21, 2009
"If you look in the mirror and see you have two long pointy teeth, you too may want to stay out of the sun..."
No, you should go see a dentist, if you see nothing when you look in a mirror then you should stay out of the sun. :P
PPihkala
5 / 5 (3) May 21, 2009
This again shows how nearsighted certain doctors advice can be. Just the other day we could read that lots of people are having low levels of cancer preventing vitamin D, because they spend too little time under the suns UV light. Now probably these people read this advice and even more avoid sun exposure. So people please practice moderation with your sun exposure to balance your benefit and harm from suns effects.
freethinking
2.4 / 5 (5) May 21, 2009
I live in someplace that is rainy and cloudy in the US and earlier this year my doctor took a blood test and found my D levels high normal. He said I was one of the few people hes tested in the region that had normal levels. In the summer I didnt proposely tan but wasnt scared of the sun, and from October to March I start taking D suppliments. Ive been doing this for years. Im in the same shape I was 20 years ago.

So my uneducated advise is dont be scared of the sun, but dont over do it either. Getting Sun burned hurts. Listening to all the expert advise will drive you crazy.

Using sunscrean everyday, with all the chemicals in it, probably a bad idea. Using it when your going out for a long time probably a good idea. I believe we were made to be outside, so being outside is ok. When we do what we are designed to do, then generally things are ok if we dont overdo it.
A_Paradox
3.7 / 5 (3) May 21, 2009
"Stay out of the sun during the midday hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)"
Paranoid much?


No. It is a question of the length of the path that light from the sun must travel through the atmosphere before it irradiates your skin. For most places on Earth, at midday in the middle of the summer, sunlight has the shortest path from space vacuum to skin cells. The further before and after noon, the lower is the apparent hight of the sun in the sky relative to your location, therefore the further the UV rays must travel and the more chance there is of them being scattered back into space or absorbed by dust particles, etc.

Obviously us white skinned people [though really it's pink or hairy "flesh" colour isn't it] have to be most careful about this and "don't go out bare-skinned between 10AM and 2PM is sound advice for people in my town - Perth Western Australia which is about 32 deg south. In Australia, Queensland [occupies the NE quadrant of the continent] has the highest rates of melanomas and of the non-melanomas. I think in USA it is Florida, yes?

A_Paradox
5 / 5 (2) May 21, 2009
Im in the same shape I was 20 years ago.


Enjoy it while you can my friend ... the gifts of maturity are "many and permanent". Galloping decrepitude is one of them. :-(

So my uneducated advise is dont be scared of the sun, but dont over do it either. Getting Sun burned hurts. Listening to all the expert advise will drive you crazy.


I agree: moderation and common sense are needed but in the interests of giving children a good example to follow - because they will do what we do, not what we say - it is worth it to take care to use SPF15 or SPF30 sunscreen when at the beach or when outside gardening, or some other work. Taking time to explain to kids what you're doing and why, rather than nagging with "you should do such and such...", is also helpful.

I feel quite strongly about this issue because my older brother Tristan died in June 1996 due to a melanoma that metastasised and managed to escape, surgery, radiation treatment and chemotherapy. The cancer was discovered in the corpus callosum of his brain [that's the big bundle of fibres that joins the two hemispheres together]. None of his doctors could discover any evidence of it on his skin so maybe it just started right there in the brain. The skin specialist I go to for check-ups says that there are melanocytes [cells which make the black protective pigment called melanin] which just naturally occur in the brain and so maybe it really did just start from a mutation in one of them.

I have my doubts though because Tristan spent most of his working life until then doing outdoor parks & garden maintenance work for local government in different places around Australia including periods in the north of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory [ie in the tropics]. Also as kids in Britain, I remember how we used to go for summer holidays in seaside towns in Wales or the south of England and each year each one of us got hopelessly sunburned at least once. I mean to the extent that within a day or so the top layer of skin was starting to peel off and within a few days thin strips of this surface skin could be peeled off, several inches at a time. We kids thought this was hugely amusing, after the pain of the sunburn had been replaced by itchiness.



Using sunscrean everyday, with all the chemicals in it, probably a bad idea. Using it when your going out for a long time probably a good idea. I believe we were made to be outside, so being outside is ok. When we do what we are designed to do, then generally things are ok if we dont overdo it.
A_Paradox
not rated yet May 21, 2009
OOps, that last paragraph was a bit of 's quote that I should have deleted.
jonnyboy
2.3 / 5 (3) May 21, 2009
"...people venturing out on sunny days traditionally wore broad-rimmed hats..."



Where is this guy from? I am 55 and can't remember ever seeing people typically wearing broad rimmed hats other than cowboys and socialites!
elgin
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2009
The idea about ball caps leaving ears unprotected is good.

The idea about not going outside from 10 till 3 may not be. Many people stay out long enough to get a tan. The best time to do that is 10 till 3. UVB rays are attenuated before and after 10 and 3 but UVA rays, the bad ones are not. Getting a tan can be done quicker between 10 and 3, and thereby reduce your UVA exposure.

@ A Paradox: Florida has higher cancer rates for almost all cancers. It has a large population of people who are 65 and older. Even without this fact, sun worshipers are drawn to Florida and they get more skin cancer no matter where they live.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (1) May 21, 2009
Meanwhile, a large percentage of people are Vitamin D deficient because they don't go out in the sun. Resulting in cancer and other stuff. Yes, you're gonna die of something, sometime, no matter how careful you are.
dsl5000
not rated yet May 22, 2009
And don't drink too much water because if you do, it will cause hypernatriemia!

Or eat too much because it will lead to obesity

or drive too much because it increases your risk of crashing! :O!!!

The article's title is very misleading. flip-flops and baseball caps don't raise your risk of skin cancer...

It's true it doesn't provide as much protection, but to say it raises cancer risk is ridiculous. I'm assuming the article's control for comparison is someone who doesn't go out, or wears broad-rimmed hat, a trench coat and boots during the summer(bright sunny day).

Not going to lie, but wearing a baseball cap and sandals give some protection as opposed to barefoot and no hat.
bmcghie
not rated yet May 24, 2009
^ Thank you dsl5000, somebody needs to keep nit picking these stupid titles. Sooner or later the writers will learn to be exact.
docknowledge
not rated yet May 24, 2009
(Smiling at bmcghie humor.)

The professor is making a comment that could save 1,000s of fashion-following idiots from dying early from skin cancer.

You don't need to think, kids! Just do what everyone else in Facebook does, and you'll be safe!