Beach holidays could raise future skin cancer risk in kids

February 3rd, 2009 - 5:24 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Feb 3 (ANI): A beach vacation may turn out to be hazardous for your kids, for a new study has found that sunny holidays can make children vulnerable to future skin cancer risk.

The study, led by Lori Crane, Ph.D., M.P.H., chair of the Department of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health, found that vacationing at the shore led to a 5 percent increase in nevi (more commonly called “moles”) among 7-year-old children.

Number of nevi is the major risk factor for malignant melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.

The study was conducted among children who lived in Colorado, but Crane said the findings are universally applicable.

“Parents of young children need to be cautious about taking their kids on vacations that are going to be sun-intensive at waterside locations, where people are outside for whole days at a time in skin-exposing swimsuits,” said Crane.

Crane said parents are under the impression that sunscreen is a cure-all, which is only true in part, because children tend to stay out in the sun longer, thus increasing their risk.

“We recommend that, for young children, parents keep the kids involved in indoor activities from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to decrease risk, or if they are to be outside, that they wear shirts with sleeves,” said Crane.

The researchers examined 681 white children born in 1998 who were lifetime residents of Colorado. Vacation histories were assessed by interview and skin exams were used to evaluate the development of nevi.

Researchers observed that each waterside vacation one or more years prior to the exam at age 7 was linked to a 5 percent increase in nevi, or skin moles, less than two mm.

“Daily sun exposure at home did not seem to be related to the number of moles, while waterside vacations were. Vacations may impart some unique risk for melanoma,” said Crane.

It was also found that young boys had a 19 percent higher risk than young girls for nevi development.

“This may be due to an increased likelihood among boys to want to stay outdoors,” said Crane.

Finally, higher incomes were associated with greater risk, as those with higher incomes were more likely to take waterside vacations.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. (ANI)

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