Skin Cancer Rates in Men are Higher Than Women. Why?
Posted on 26 April 2019
Melanoma, the most-serious skin cancer, affects the sexes differently.
Men are more likely to die of melanoma than women. This is true at any age. White adolescent males and young adult men are about twice as likely to die of melanoma as are white females of the same age.
By age 65, men are 2 times as likely as women of the same age to get melanoma. By age 80, men are 3 times more likely than women in that age group to develop melanoma.
THE GREAT GENDER DIVIDE
In skin cancer statistics, there’s a striking gender gap. Though more people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined, there are a disproportionate number of men in those statistics. That includes melanoma, the most dangerous of the three most common types of skin cancer.
WHY SKIN CANCER STRIKES MEN MORE
1. MEN OFTEN KNOW LESS ABOUT SKIN CANCER
A survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology in 2016 found that fewer men than women knew the following facts:
2. WOMEN OFTEN APPLY SUNSCREEN MORE OFTEN
We also know that women apply sunscreen more often than men. Women also use makeup and other cosmetics that offer SPF. So sun protection seems to play a role in why melanoma strikes men harder.
image courtesy Skin Cancer Foundation
“Men may not be deliberately tanning, but if they go fishing or go out for a run, they tend not to apply sunscreen,” explains Dr. Carlos Gomez-Meade, the Little Leaves co-founder who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancer. “When men get hot, they take off their shirt, and they just don’t think about the consequences. In general, they’re don’t take proactive measures to protect themselves from sun damage.”
3. MEN HAVE DIFFERENT SKIN THAN WOMEN
Researchers believe that a major cause may lie in men’s skin. We know that men’s skin differs from women’s skin. Men have thicker skin with less fat beneath. A man’s skin also contains more collagen and elastin, fibers that give the skin firmness and keep it tight.
Research shows that these differences make men’s skin more likely to be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. A separate study reached the same conclusion.
Research also shows that a women’s skin may be better at repairing the damage caused by UV rays.
TEACH GOOD SUN PROTECTION HABITS
While the gender gap persists, in recent years, the long-term rapid rise in melanoma cases has at least begun to slow. The Skin Cancer Foundation believes that educational efforts about sun protection and the dangers of sunburns are starting to take hold.
Daily sunscreen use reduces the risk of developing skin cancer by about 40 percent and melanoma by 50 percent.
Sun protective clothing makes a big difference, too. Little Leaves co-founder and pediatrician Dr. Carley Gomez-Meade agrees, “While sunscreen is a must, sun protective clothing (Little Leaves all-natural clothing blocks 98% of UV rays) is simply the most effective protection for your family. It’s convenient, it doesn’t wash off, and you don’t have to chase family members down every 2 hours!”
Even on cloudy days, anyone going outside should:
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat and UV protection sunglasses.
- Seek shade whenever possible.
- Stay out of the sun when the rays are the strongest: 10am – 2pm
In addition, examine your skin head-to-toe every month. If you spot suspicious lesions, you increase your chances of detecting skin cancers at an early stage, when they are easiest to cure. Unfortunately, only 31 percent of men surveyed know how to perform skin self-exams.
Lastly, see your physician every year for a professional skin exam. Just 21 percent of the survey’s male respondents said they were likely to see a medical professional for a skin exam this year.
Little Leaves sun protective clothing is available for the entire family! Use it to protect every age in your family throughout the entire year.
Sources and Resources:
Skin Cancer Foundation – Men Fall Short on Skin Cancer Knowledge and Prevention
American Academy of Dermatology – Melanoma strikes men harder
Skin Cancer Foundation – Men on the Hook
Why Do Men Have Worse Melanoma Survival Than Women? Is It Behavior, Biology, or Both?