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Skin Cancer Risks For Men

Did You Know That Melanoma Hurts More Men Than Women?

Putting on sunscreen should be a daily step in protecting our skin from the sun, and Allure shares some stats about why it's so important for everyone (especially men).

I pop open a tube of sunscreen while I'm comfortably stretched out beside a swimming pool, or when I head out for a summer run. But otherwise? We should all protect ourselves from UV rays, but like the average guy, my commitment to sun protection — by which I mean the lack of it — is the opposite of a bad habit. It's pure, guilt-free laziness. And it's potentially deadly.

Melanoma, the most lethal of skin cancers, kills twice as many men as women — even though it's easily prevented. For men, the peak age of onset is 40. In other words, melanoma is a young man's disease. "The reason is because the majority of men do not apply sunscreen at all," says Ellen Marmur, an associate clinical professor of dermatology, genetics, and genomic research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. "They're accumulating sunburns and suntans, which raise their risk of skin cancers many, many times."

Here's a typical scenario. A guy might apply a small amount of spray or lotion to his face but neglect his neck and body (the number-one site for melanoma in men is on the back). Then, when the shirt comes off, he's exposed to the sun all over. He doesn't realize just how badly he needs sunscreen until later that night when the painful burn begins. And by then, it's too late. "Men are in sunscreen denial," says Marmur, a skin cancer survivor herself, who works to raise awareness about sun protection.

So as Summer gets under way, I have a request. Every time you put on sunscreen, reach out to the male standing nearest to you and slap some on his face, back, neck, ears, and, if he has one, his bald head. Those are the most common areas for sun damage. We should all be doing this every day of the year, says Marmur. But let's worry about Winter later. Happy Memorial Day.

Visit Skin Cancer: Take a Hike to learn about Ellen Marmur's latest project to combat skin cancer.

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