UV-A radiation also causes skin cancer

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UV radiation: skin cancer rate expected to double in Europe

Recent studies have shown that UV-A radiation carries a significantly higher risk of skin cancer than previously thought. Not only does UV-B, but also UV-A radiation from sunlight make a significant contribution to skin cancer, which according to the Federal Association of German Dermatologists (BVDD) has increased significantly over the past two decades.

With a Europe-wide campaign under the umbrella of the European Academy for Dermatology and Venereology (EADV), the experts want to draw attention to the risks of skin cancer and to inform about possible measures for early detection, prevention and treatment. The Euro Melanoma Week 2012, in which numerous dermatologists and clinical institutions are involved, started yesterday.

Skin cancer screening is to be strengthened
At the kick-off event for Euro Melanoma Week 2012, BVDD President Dr. Michael Reusch particularly emphasizes the importance of preventive checkups in the fight against skin cancer. The number of participants in the annual check-ups for people from the age of 35 must increase significantly. Instead of the previous 30 percent who decide to undergo a preventive medical checkup, 70 percent of those over 35 years of age should take part in a skin cancer screening in five years, Reusch explained. With information campaigns and campaigns such as the Euro Melanoma Week, the population is to the topic should be sensitized "if only to reduce the costs of skin cancer surgery and expensive drug treatments," said the President of the BVDD. According to the experts at Schleswig-Holstein, the successes that an improvement in early detection enables can be seen where early detection and education have halved the mortality rate of skin cancer patients.

Excessive sunbathing is the main cause of skin cancer The president of the BVDD also demands that education about the causes of skin cancer and appropriate behavior of skin cancer prevention become part of health education in kindergarten and school. Skin cancer is usually triggered by harmful sunlight or the ultraviolet radiation that reaches the earth with the sun's rays. The UV rays affect the genetic repair system and the affected skin cells may start to grow uncontrollably. Tumors are formed that appear as so-called black skin cancer (malignant melanoma) or as white skin cancer (e.g. basal cell carcinoma). The German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg (DKFZ) names excessive exposure to sunlight as the main risk factor for skin cancer. Not only does the sun hold dangers in midsummer, but also the spring sun, as it was observed in the record weather in April (32.2 degrees Celsius was measured in Munich), causes a skin cancer risk that should not be underestimated. Extensive sunbathing is therefore also critical in spring.

UV-A radiation increases the risk of skin cancer significantly more than previously thought. While UV-B radiation in sunlight was previously the main cause of skin cancer, recent studies have shown that UV-A radiation also has a significantly higher risk of skin cancer. than previously assumed, the experts reported at the opening event of Euro-Melanoma Week 2012. The longer-wave UV-A radiation penetrates deeper into the skin and causes damage to the genetic material even with continuous radiation with low radiation intensity. This mutagenic effect of UV-A rays was previously only observed at very high doses. At the beginning of the year, Professor Antony Young from King’s College London and colleagues presented study results according to which the risk of UV-A radiation had been significantly underestimated. The extent of the damage observed had also caused a surprise in the professional world, although previous studies already indicated the risk of skin cancer from UV-A rays. Since 94 percent of the ultraviolet component of sunlight is formed from UV-A rays and only 6 percent UV-B radiation, UV-A radiation could actually cause a considerable proportion of skin cancer.

Different effects of UV-A and UV-B rays Professor Antony Young, an expert in photobiology, has been dealing with the interaction between light and organisms for years. One of his main research areas was the consequences of UV radiation on human skin. A basic distinction must be made here between the effects of UV-A and UV-B rays. For example, the effects of long-wave UV-A radiation include accelerated skin aging and wrinkling, loss of elasticity and changes in pigmentation. The short-wave UV-B light cannot penetrate as deeply as the UV-A rays, but causes the clearly visible sunburn directly on the surface. Both types of radiation are now responsible for the development of melanomas, since they "impair the monitoring function of the skin's own immune system against changed cells" and thus prepare the ground for the development of skin cancer, "explained the expert from the Pharmaceutical Institute at Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen, Professor Rolf Daniels.

Researchers expect the rate of skin cancer to double. According to current research, UV-A radiation has played a significant role in the significantly increased number of skin cancer cases in recent years. The BVDD President's reports from a scientific conference in Copenhagen on the relationship between "health, environment and climate" can only be used to guess what health risks the population will face in the future. In April, numerous experts met in the Danish capital to discuss the relationship between "health, environment and climate". Dr. Harry Slaper from the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment presented figures here that the rate of skin cancer has doubled in Europe. According to the experts, this development could only be stopped by a significant improvement in prevention.

Sun cream for skin cancer prevention? The most common form of skin cancer prevention in the population is the use of sunscreen creams when sunbathing. However, previous sun creams often did not offer any or only insufficient protection against UV-A rays. Therefore, manufacturers are currently working flat out to improve their products. In 2010, the company BASF launched a broadband filter that is designed to protect against both UV-A and UV-B light. According to the company, almost 50 percent of all sun protection products already contain the new UV-A filters. However, the protective effect of sunscreens is still a matter of controversy among experts today. Although it is clearly clear that sunscreen prevents sunburn, the experts have not yet agreed on how to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Because individual studies had indicated that sunscreens may even increase the risk of black skin cancer. Other studies, however, came to the opposite result, with older studies assuming procedural errors. In fact, only sunscreen creams with a relatively low sun protection factor and without a UV-A filter were taken into account here, so that criticism based on the older studies hardly seems justified. According to the experts, however, comprehensive results on the effect of the sun protection cream with UV-A filter will only be available in years or decades. (fp)

Read on:
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Video: UV radiation and skin cancer


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