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Q.

Are there other risk factors for melanoma than UV exposure and fair skin?

 

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A.

Ultraviolet (UV) rays are a part of sunlight that is an invisible form of radiation. UV rays can penetrate and change the structure of skin cells and can cause skin cancer and premature skin aging. Exposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning beds is the most preventable risk factor for melanoma. UVA rays are the most abundant source of solar radiation at the earth's surface and penetrate beyond the top layer of skin. Scientists believe that UVA rays can increase a person's risk for developing skin cancer. UVB rays are less abundant at the earth's surface and penetrate less deeply into the skin but can also be damaging and are primarily responsible for causing sunburn. It is important to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. The current SPF scoring system primarily refers to degree of protection against UVB radiation, and scientists at the FDA are working to develop and implement a system to measure UVA protection.

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