May Is Melanoma Awareness Month

The month of May has been designated MELANOMA AWARENESS MONTH. While the yearly calendar is packed full with days, weeks and months dedicated to many important medical and social causes, Melanoma Awareness Month is especially important and directly relates to activities we all participate in when the sun rises higher in the sky and the power of damaging ultraviolet radiation is more intense. More intense UV rays means more risk of skin damage from the cancer-causing mutations in the skin. Interestingly, ultraviolet radiation causes “fingerprint” mutations in certain cancer genes. The mutations are unique to the sun and so it is possible to identify in damaged skin, what mutations were accumulated while lying, working or playing in the sun unprotected. While not all melanomas are caused by the sun ( it is estimated that 40% of melanomas may not  be sun-related) the role of the sun in melanoma is well-established and that critical fact creates an opportunity for strategic protection. There are so many diseases and ailments for which the cause is not known. In the case of melanoma and skin cancer, we not only know the cause ( UV radiation) but we know how to minimize it, thus providing one true approach to preventative health. A great public service advertisement was recently posted on youtube.com:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4jgUcxMezM&feature=share

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