Skin Cancer Risk in Texas is Scary-High
This weekend is going to be a scorcher and it's going to feel like the sun is burning a hole right through us, and maybe it is. You won't believe how high Texas ranks when it comes to skin cancer risk.
When I think of states where the sun's rays are the most painful, of course, our beloved Texas comes to mind, along with states like Florida, California, Arizona, Alabama, and all of the southern states where people tend to sweat in the movies. We're closer to the equator down here, and it makes sense that the sun's rays would be more intense, right? Because of it, our skin cancer risk is high.
Texascancer.info says Texas ranks #3 in America for "incidence of malignant melanoma, the most deadly of all skin cancers, suggesting the urgent need for an examination of the problems of prevention, detection, and treatment of skin cancer in Texas." They didn't mince words. They also said 1 in 5 people in America will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and in Texas, it's higher - more like 1 in 3.
I remember getting a nasty blistering sunburn at age 24 after spending an entire afternoon floating on a tube on Lake Travis in Austin with my back to the sun, and next to childbirth and stepping on a Lego, it was the worst pain ever. Oh, it was awful. And now I get yearly full-body checks at the dermatologist's office just to make sure I didn't ruin my life, and that everything is okay. So far so good.
It's not always the sun's fault. From what I've read, much of our skin cancer risk comes from tanning beds, which offer plenty of exposure to ultraviolet radiation too. Skin cancer risk factors include exposure to UV rays, family history, and a weakened immune system, according to the CDC. Fair-skinned people like me come with a built-in higher risk, and it's something I worry about every time I'm in the sun. A dermatologist told me one time that I should even wear sunscreen if I'm sitting near a window at the office. Most makeup has at least a little bit of sunscreen in it, so I'm good, right? Yikes.
The advice for reducing skin cancer risk includes a lot of obvious stuff, like wearing sunscreen, wearing bucket hats and clothing that will block the rays, and staying in the shade because getting burned is a bad idea.
Skin cancer risk probably won't stop any of us from going to Splash Kingdom or heading to the lake this summer, but we should probably pack plenty of Coppertone in the beach bag along with the snacks. It's still a fun summer!