Living near water may raise your risk of skin cancer

Australian researchers say those living in coastal areas are probably more at risk for skin cancer because they spend more time in the sun.

The researchers at the University of Adelaide suggest that while the skin cancer risk is greater for coastal and river people, with more care that risk can be reduced.

It seems data has revealed that South Australians living on the coast, near the River Murray and in metropolitan Adelaide are more likely to get skin cancer than their inland cousins - the researchers say the data has revealed that over a 20-year period from 1985-2004, coastal dwellers in particular are 41% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma.

The researchers from the University of Adelaide and SA Department of Health say living close to the river also carries a 19% greater chance of contracting skin cancer compared to residents living in regional and remote parts of South Australia.

Melanoma specialist Associate Professor Brendon Coventry from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Surgery says the results indicate that people who live near the coast or River Murray are more exposed to the sun over their lifetime.

Earlier research had suggested that the coastal effect may also be explained by greater physical activity outdoors and Associate Professor Coventry says there is a large elderly population in coastal South Australia and it is important that melanoma prevention is a target in these areas as there is a significant problem with diagnosing melanoma early enough in older men.

Associate Professor Coventry and SA Health colleagues Adrian Heard and Bridget Milanowski analysed melanoma statistics from metropolitan Adelaide and 11 regional centres in South Australia and they say while there was a significant risk in contracting skin cancer for residents living on the coast or near the river, the data wasn't strong enough to show a real difference in melanoma death rates compared to people living inland.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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