Opinion

OUR VIEW: Alarming increase in skin cancer

Canadians love the sun so much, it’s killing us.

After being cooped up for months at a time to shelter from the snow and cold and, in the case of southwestern British Columbia, interminable rain, we rejoice at the first days of warm sunshine. By July we’re positively basking in it.

And that’s leading to an alarming increase in skin cancer, according to a report released Wednesday by the Canadian Cancer Society, Statistics Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

The report says there will be about 6,500 new cases of malignant melanoma diagnosed in Canada this year. That’s the deadliest, most insidious form of skin cancer that will kill more than 1,000 Canadians.

Another 76,100 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers will also be diagnosed. Those are less serious and can usually be treated in the doctor’s office.

Unlike many other forms of cancer, the incidence of skin cancer is actually going up rather than down. For men, the incidence rate went up two per cent between 1986 and 2010. For women it increased 1.5 per cent. Mortality rates also increased.

Those are sobering statistics worth thinking about the next time the seven-day weather forecast shows a solid run of glowing, golden orbs. Especially since it’s so easy to prevent skin cancer. While it might be a little much to ask people to stay indoors, it’s not a big deal to put on that shirt, roll down those sleeves, slap on that hat, slop on that sunscreen. And pay heed to that UV index that’s become a standard feature of most weather forecasts to avoid the sun’s rays when they’re at their most damaging.

A little summertime prevention will mean being able to enjoy a lot more sunny seasons to come.

– Black Press

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