How do I reduce my melanoma risk?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Once you've got your daily sun, here's what you can do to make sure you protect yourself from harm:
  • Year-round, rain or shine, make sure your food and supplements deliver a total of 1,000 IUs of vitamin D3 and 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily. This can cut your melanoma risk by up to 57%.
  • Use zinc oxide or titanium dioxide sunscreen with a 30 SPF. Apply a layer that's 1 millimeter thick (much thicker than you think) and reapply frequently.

To reduce the risk of melanoma, try not to burn, and avoid tanning salons and intentional sun tanning. Avoiding prolonged periods of direct sun exposure to the skin, using sunscreen when you are in the sun and avoiding tanning beds are the most powerful and effective ways to prevent melanoma and other skin cancers. Frequent blistering sun burns, particularly earlier in life, have been shown to increase the risk of melanoma.                                                                                                 

Individuals who are at higher risk for melanoma, whether due to a family history, a large number of moles, or significant UVA exposure from the sun or tanning beds, should see a dermatologist for a baseline screening in their 20s and annual screening thereafter. Self-exams are also important, so those at higher risk should learn to look for suspicious moles or changing moles and see a dermatologist immediately with any questions.

According to the National Cancer Institute, part of the United States National Institutes of Health, women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55% more likely to develop malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Frequent tanning bed use increases both men's and women’s risk of developing skin cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.