Skin cancer rate among men is on the rise

Israeli young people are at risk of “inviting” skin cancer, including the most dangerous type – melanoma – by paying to use sunbeds.

May 5, 2010 05:45
3 minute read.
Genome-specific cancer treatments will be one of t

genome specific treatment 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Although the rate of early diagnosis of skin cancer has more than tripled to 36 percent since the Israel Cancer Association launched its awareness week in the early 1990s, the disease has persisted. Every week, 100 new cases are reported, and while the prevalence among women remains steady, it is increasing among men.

Skin cancer awareness week will begin on Sunday, with health fund clinics and other sites around the country offering free skin checks by dermatologists. Health insurers will also offer sunscreen products at a special discount during the week. More information will be available in newspaper ads on Friday, on the ICA Web site ( and the Telemeida phone line (1-800-599-995).

ICA director-general Miri Ziv said at a press conference ahead of the campaign that early detection saves lives, because it raises the chances of recovery to 90% or higher. Native Israelis are at a higher risk of getting skin cancer than immigrants from Africa, Asia, most of Europe and the Americas noted Dr. Micha Barhanna, head of the Health Ministry’s Cancer Registry. He did not explain why.

The ICA has noticed, however, that French immigrants in Jerusalem, Netanya, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Ra’anana tend to “get addicted” to the Israeli sunshine and should beware.

Israeli young people are at risk of “inviting” skin cancer, including the most dangerous type – melanoma – by paying to use sunbeds whose ultraviolet rays can cause changes in the skin cells’ DNA. In Britain and Scandinavia, the use of tanning beds by children ages 11 to 17 is frequent. Such habits raise the risk of melanoma by 75%, said Dr. Felix Pavlotzky, a senior dermatologist at Sheba Medical Center.

The greater awareness of the need to maintain an adequate level of vitamin D to help prevent a variety of diseases has induced some people to use tanning beds or soak up sunshine, but that is not necessary at all, said Pavlotzky, since vitamin drops or tablets suffice.

Tel Aviv University clinical dietitian Dr. Niba Shapira said that eating kiwi, rosemary, sage, olive oil, broccoli and other components of a Mediterranean diet – which are rich in antioxidants – can reduce the risk of contracting skin cancer, but this dietary change cannot be relied upon. She advised going out into the sun only during the safer hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., wearing a broad-brimmed hat, light long-sleeve clothing and sunglasses and using sunscreen.

Research at Stanford University has shown that once one has had melanoma and been lucky enough to have recovered, the risk of having a relapse is nine times higher than if one never had this type of skin cancer. In addition, the risk of these individuals contracting lymphoma, breast cancer or prostate cancer was also much higher after having melanoma, according to a new study.

A vaccine that was developed as protection against the herpes virus is now being tested for treatment of advanced melanoma; eight of 50 patients completely recovered. But this is far from an overwhelming success. A long Mayo Clinic study has found that people who have undergone a heart transplant are at higher risk of getting skin cancer.

A good way to remember the warning signs of skin cancer are the first five letters of the alphabet: A is for Asymmetry, where one-half of the mole is unlike the other. B is for Border, where the mole is irregular, scalloped or poorly defined. C is for Color, which varies from one area to another or has different shades of tan, brown, black and sometimes white, red or blue. D is for Diameter, where a mole is bigger than the size of a pencil eraser. E is for Evolving, or changing in size, shape or color.

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