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Sunburn can lead to melanoma; new study finds

By Julie Newman, jnewman@wcyb.com
Published On: Jun 10 2014 10:49:04 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2014 02:31:32 AM CDT

A recent cancer study found that white women who had five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 have an 80-percent increased risk of melanoma.

JOHNSON CITY/KINGSPORT, Tenn. -

There's new research about the dangers of sunburn, especially when you're young. A recent cancer study found that white women who had five or more blistering sunburns between the ages of 15 and 20 have an 80-percent increased risk of melanoma. The study was published in the journal "Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention."

I sat down with a Johnson City woman who tells me it's information she wishes she knew years ago.
Payton Tipton is s survivor, "I was very lucky to catch it in time." She was 13 days away from her 19th birthday when she discovered she had stage three melanoma - a form of skin cancer that can be deadly. "It was found in one lymph node. So they did another surgery to see if it was in any other lymph nodes. It was not, thankfully."

Payton tells me she went to myrtle beach every summer as a kid. "I would get burnt once and then I would start to get tan. But every year i got burnt. Most years it didn't blister, but there were a couple of years that it did."

And it's the burn that's your worst enemy, according to Dr. Joni Sago, a dermatologist in Kingsport. "Sunburn is more strongly linked to melanoma than little bits of sun acquired through your lifetime." And though sun protection doesn't guarantee that you will not develop melanoma, Dr. Sago says it's your best line of defense.

But with so many options, how do you know what sunscreen to grab? Dr. Sago tells me it's more important to look at the ingredients on the back than the SPF rating on the front. In her opinion, there are two stellar ingredients to look for: titanium and zinc. "They cover the most spectrum." And the one she says to avoid is oxybenzone.

So here's the take-away from Dr. Sago.  "Seek shade first. Clothing is second. Hats are cute, swim shirts are fabulous and then third is sunscreen."

And here's the take-away from Payton. "I'm a lot more aware of when i'm in the sun and just taking every day like a blessing because you never know when you're not going to have the next day."

Here are some additional facts from doctor sago that can help protect you.
70-percent of the sun's most damaging rays are around lunch time, between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
And just one tanning-bed exposure before the age of 16 increases your chance of melanoma 75-percent.