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Prolonged, intense sun exposure may raise military personnel’s risk of skin cancer: study

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Photo: Department of Defense

Rosemont, IL — Members of the military may face an increased risk of developing skin cancer, according to a recent study from the American Academy of Dermatology.

Researchers analyzed nine published studies covering cases of melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – and non-melanoma among active and veteran military personnel. Findings linked extended exposure to tropical environments and a lack of sufficient sun protection with an increased risk of developing skin cancer. In addition, two studies showed that members of the U.S. Air Force experienced higher rates of skin cancer compared with other branches of the military.

“From the Pacific Theater in World War II to more recent campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military members have been deployed to areas where they face prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays,” Jennifer Powers, board-certified dermatologist and study co-author, said in a May 17 press release. “This exposure is even more intense for those serving in desert environments because the sun’s rays reflect off of sand.”

Experts say that although some tactics for skin cancer prevention may not be feasible during deployment, military personnel can detect signs of cancer during early, more treatable stages. For more information, visit spotskincancer.org.

The study was published in the June edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

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