“It’s essential to contemplate what environmental influences could also be impacting the increased incidence of skin cancer. When you consider the skin, it’s really our largest organ and it’s our primary interface with the environment. So skin is especially susceptible to and inclined to influences – and due to this fact disease – which may be environmentally induced,” said Dr. Eva R. Parker, Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Vanderbilt University, in an interview with CURE®.
Climate Change’s Impact on Skin
Chloroflurocarbon (CFC), a chemical that has been used as a refrigerant, propellant, and solvent, has been definitively linked to climate change since it destroys the stratospheric ozone layer. Whereas the Montreal Protocol treaty has been phasing out the usage of CFC, the effects of the chemical are, unfortunately, long-lasting.
“The (stratospheric) ozone layer serves as what I like to think about as Earth’s broad-brim, sun-protective hat where ozone layer absorbs and prevents a considerable amount of UVB radiation from reaching Earth’s surface,” Parker said.
The Earth’s average temperature is rising as a result of climate change. Not solely can warmth promote carcinogenesis directly within the skin, according to Parker, but it also has a less complicated impact that may impact skin cancer risk: when it’s hotter outside, individuals are inclined to put on fewer clothes and spend extra time outside while absorbing more UV radiation.
Air pollution – which, like climate change, is a result of burning fossil fuels – may also enhance skin cancer rates, Parker explained. When fossil fuels burn, they release carbon dioxide and different pollution like particulate matter and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which have been linked to different cancer types, reminiscent of kidney, and liver cancer.
“So you have manmade sources for air pollution like burning fossil fuels but you also have natural sources like wildfires. These chemicals work together with the skin through varied mechanisms… They activate complex molecular pathways, including the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, which then triggers numerous bad issues in the skin, together with irritation and carcinogenesis,” Parker said.
Decrease The Risk of Skin Cancer and Climate Change
Individuals can take steps to mitigate their risk of developing skin cancer on account of publicity to UV radiation. Actions include:
- Avoiding being outside during peak sun-intensity hours (10 a.m. until 4 p.m.)
- Wearing protecting clothes and hats
- Utilizing sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, and reapplying each 90 minutes
About conducting to air pollution, Parker suggests individuals test air quality earlier than spending time outdoors. This may be achieved through varied websites or even smartphone apps.
Finally, Parker said that everybody has a role in stopping climate change altogether. People could make easy adjustments in their lives that may assist. These include:
- Eating less meat
- Altering out traditional lightbulbs for LED lightbulbs
- Supporting companies and insurance policies which can be climate-friendly
“It’s essential to recognize that climate change has been taking place and tends to proceed to occur. It’s affecting our health already and can proceed to take action with better magnitude for future generations,” Parker said. “Individual patients who’ve concerns about these results on themselves or their family members ought to talk about it with their physician.”