Skin Cancer | Another Battle For War Veterans?
We owe so much to those that have risked their lives to ensure that we are safe and protected. What we often forget is how soldiers continue to endure the consequences of their brave choices long after they return home. With new focus on the long term effects of wartime stress and Warrior in Transition programs, the health of veterans has come front and center. But should our concerns be more skin deep?
Soldiers undergo gruesome conditions for countless days in order to fulfill their missions. This can lead to an exponential amount of time in the sun. Recent studies involving soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have shown that over 75% reported being in the sun for more than 4 hours at a time. “The likelihood of sunburn and improper sun protection increases with time,” explains Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board-certified Dermatologist and Mohs Micrographic Surgeon in Austin, Texas. “With these wars both taking place in desert countries, skin cancer seems like an ultimate inevitability from these conditions.”
Knowledge Is Power
Some startling information was also discovered in the study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Of over 200 soldiers, “only 13 percent of the veterans noted wearing sunscreen,” shares Dr. Mamelak. It is important to know the true value of applying sunscreen in the prevention of skin cancer. “Even a single application before heading out for the day can assist in lowering your chance of burning, but it is imperative to continually reapply in sweaty conditions.”
Another concerning observation was that more than 70% of soldiers claimed they were not fully informed of sun safety and skin cancer risk. “Many only passively understand the importance of sun protection and the potential for sun damage and skin cancer,” Dr. Mamelak says. Being informed of the dangers that you face when exposed to the sun is necessary to fully understand the need to protect your skin. This knowledge is crucial, especially to those men and women who are risking their lives to make us feel safe.