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What Causes Skin Cancer Besides the Sun?

Traditional skin cancer prevention teaches us that the disease is mainly associated with increased sun exposure. However, there are a number of other health factors that can provoke skin cancer. As the diagnosis rates continue to climb, taking into account how conditions like human papillomavirus (HPV), alcohol consumption, and ineffective sun protection methods contribute to the risk of developing skin cancer.

HPV. There are a number of HPV strains that provoke dry and itchy skin or warts. One European study found that people who have HPV located in their skin are 30 percent more likely to have squamous cell carcinoma.  “If skin is infected with HPV and exposed to a lot of sun, you are creating two scenarios that can wear down DNA and cause cellular damage that might lead to skin cancer,” said Melanie Palm, MD, a San Diego-based dermatologist for Glamour.

Umbrella. A big beach umbrella is intended to block direct sun rays, but it’s not designed to prevent the skin from scattered rays. In a 2017 study, 81 light-skinned people were randomly assigned to use either an umbrella or sunscreen while they sat for three and a half hours at Lake Lewisville, Texas. At the end of the day, 32 people who used an umbrella had a sunburn compared to only 10 who applied sunscreen.

Alcohol. Around 10 percent of the U.S. drinks 74 alcoholic drinks a week on average. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that alcohol intake can increase a person’s risk of melanoma by 14 percent. Drinking white wine in particular has a 13 percent increased risk of melanoma.

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