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Too much driving may cause skin cancer: Study

Washington: Don`t forget to apply sunscreen
and wear protective clothing when you are about to spend hours
behind the wheel, as a new study has claimed too much driving
may increase the risk of skin cancer because of exposure to UV
rays through car window.

The Saint Louis University study that looked at 1,050
patients found that facial skin cancers were to occur more
often on the left side of the face, especially in men.

"Drivers need to be aware of the amount of sun exposure
they receive behind the wheel," Scott Fosko, the co-author of
the study was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

Fosko, who is also the chair of dermatology at Saint
Louis University School of Medicine, said such exposure to UV
rays could be a cumulative effect which builds up over many

According to the researchers, sunlight is mostly made up
of two types of ultraviolet rays: UVA and UVB. While exposure
to UVB causes sunburn, UVA penetrates the skin more deeply and
causes wrinkling.

Recent research has found that UVA exacerbates the
carcinogenic effects of UVB and might cause skin cancer. And
as car windows don`t protect against UVA rays, drivers are at
higher risk of such exposure, the scientists said.

For their study, the researchers reviewed cases of
patients who came into the university`s dermatology department
in 2004.

They found that about 54 per cent of cases of skin
cancers on the head and neck occurred on the left side -- the
side that`s next to the window while driving.

In men, these cancers occurred nearly 56 per cent of the
time on the left, while in women they occurred on the left
about 52 per cent of the time.

They also observed that melanomas -- the most deadly form
of skin cancer that claims over 12,000 lives annually in the
US -- occurred on the left side 74 per cent of the time in the
entire group.

To avoid this danger, Fosko recommended wearing sunscreen
that blocks both UVA and UVB rays every day. Defence against
premature wrinkling and ageing of the skin are also added
benefits of sunscreen application.

"Professional drivers (should) learn to wear proper
safety equipment be it gloves, steel-toed boots or safety
glasses when appropriate," Fosko said.

"Sunscreen should be added to the list. An ounce of
sunscreen applied as prevention on the road can be worth a lot
of time and expense parked in a doctor’s office later on," he

The study will be published in the upcoming issue of the
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.


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