In order to prevent skin cancer nationwide, a new study sponsored by McGill University explores why residents of the Atlantic areas are more at risk for acquiring melanoma than other Canadians.
Melanoma rates have been rising everywhere, including in Canada. Melanoma is a fatal kind of skin cancer. According to current projections, up to one in three Canadians will acquire skin cancer at some point in their lives. While some Atlantic provinces, like Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Nova Scotia, have the highest melanoma incidence rates in the nation, rates in other provinces, including New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador, are lower than or equivalent to the national average.
The researchers analyzed UV exposure and behaviors among several Atlantic Canadian populations depending on criteria including wealth, education, and gender to determine why.
People with higher incomes are more likely to develop melanoma
According to the study, people with greater incomes are more likely to develop melanoma. This is at risk due to things like using tanning beds frequently and having a tan. Similar to this, people with university degrees were less likely to use tanning beds yet exposed to the sun more frequently for leisure purposes.
Dr. Ivan Litvinov, an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine and Chair of the Dermatology Division at McGill University, emphasizes that “a higher socioeconomic status is known to be connected with more holidays in sunny climates and recreational tanning, which likely ultimately drives melanoma incidence in this population.”
However, the study also revealed that people making less than $50,000 annually were more likely to work outside and be exposed to the sun at work, which increased their risk of getting skin cancer. According to the researchers, these results indicate that measures to safeguard outdoor workers may help lower the risk of developing melanoma.
Sunscreen skepticism is higher among men.
The researchers discovered that when comparing men and women, women had less sun exposure and used more sun protection measures. Men were more likely to report having more sunburns overall, as well as having more exposure to the sun at work and play. Additionally, melanoma and other skin malignancies were more common in them.
Despite this, women tended to use tanning beds more frequently and wear fewer long sleeves. According to the researchers, these behaviors may help to explain why women are more prone than males to get melanoma in their extremities.
They discovered that males hold less favorable views of sunscreen use than women do when it comes to preventing skin cancer. This is supported by the fact that women were more worried about new moles and more inclined to seek a family doctor’s opinion. The lower overall incidence and death of melanoma in women, according to the researchers, may be explained by these behavioral characteristics.
Using what you know about sun protection
The results also indicate that residents of high-risk areas in PEI and Nova Scotia had more sun exposure and sunburns than residents of places like Newfoundland and Labrador. Surprisingly, residents of these at-risk areas knew more about melanoma awareness and sun protection.
Many Canadians need to take action on the knowledge they already possess in order to prevent skin cancer. One of the most efficient ways to prevent skin cancer, according to Dr. Litvinov, is to wear sunscreen.
According to the researchers, public health initiatives to reduce skin cancer should be targeted to focus on particular demographic groups. When speaking to a young man who is single vs a woman who is mother of children, you need to convey a distinct message about sun protection.
“Governments also directly contribute to the fight against the melanoma epidemic’s rising incidence. According to projections, the cost of skin cancer to the Canadian healthcare system could reach $1 billion yearly by 2030. “Canada should take the lead from many other nations that have eliminated sales taxes on sunscreen to encourage their use.”