Why Are Men More Susceptible to Skin Cancer?

Men, especially those with lighter skin, are more likely than women to acquire skin cancer, including melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer.

When you think about sun protection, you might think about a day at the beach. However, over your lifetime, you get sun exposure doing everyday things like biking, working, running, commuting, or even mowing the lawn.

Sun exposure is the main source of ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can cause skin cancer. Moreover, UV exposure adds up over time, increasing your risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. Every year, nearly five million people are treated for skin cancer, at a cost of about $8 billion. Melanoma causes around 8,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

Why Are Men More Likely Than Women to Get Skin Cancer?

Men tend to get more sun exposure than women do. Men spend more time outside over their lifetimes than women, and they are more likely to work outdoors than women. Women’s personal care products, like moisturizer and makeup, often contain sunscreen, while many products for men do not.

About one-third of U.S. adults is sunburned each year. Sunburn, which can increase your risk of getting skin cancer, is common among white men, young adults, and men who tan indoors. When outside on a sunny day for more than an hour, only about 14% of men use sunscreen on both their face and other exposed skin.

Easy Ways to Protect Yourself

It is easy to protect yourself from UV exposure—

  • Long-sleeved shirts, pants, and a wide-brimmed hat offer the best protection. If you are wearing a baseball cap or short-sleeved shirt, make sure to put sunscreen on your ears, neck, and arms.
  • Stay in the shade as much as possible between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., which are peak times for sunlight.
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 15, preferably SPF 30 or higher, on any exposed skin, and do not forget to re-apply it every two hours, as well as after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
  • If you work outdoors, ask about sun protection at your job, like wearing sun-protective clothing.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

Head-to-toe self-examinations, and early screenings by your doctor, are also recommended.

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