Marathon runners could face risk of skin cancer
Nov 21, 2006 - 5:32:56 PM

London, Nov 21 (IANS) Marathon runners could face the risk of developing skin cancer, say researchers in Austria after studying 210 long distance runners between the ages of 19 to 71.

Christina M. Ambros-Rudolph, a consultant dermatologist at the Medical University of Graz, Austria, and her co-researchers, all runners, conducted the study after caring for eight ultra-marathon runners with malignant melanoma -- a serious form of skin cancer -- over the past decade, reported the online edition of the health magazine WebMD.

All participants underwent a skin cancer exam and answered questions about personal and family skin cancer history as well as changes in skin lesions, sunburn history, sun sensitivity and physical characteristics such as skin and eye colour.

Marathon runners can be proud of their stamina, but all that time outdoors boosts their risk of skin cancer, including the potentially deadly malignant melanoma, the researchers say in the study published in the Archives of Dermatology journal.

The marathon runners had more atypical moles and more lesions called solar lentigines -- often called 'liver spots' -- that are associated with a higher risk of malignant melanoma.

Ambros-Rudolph advises runners to cover up, train when sunlight exposure is less intense and slather on the sunscreen -- in spray or lotion form. An SPF of 15 or higher is recommended. Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is a degree to which a sunscreen, suntan lotion, or similar preparation protects the skin from ultraviolet rays.

The type of product preferred varies by gender, Ambros-Rudolph observes. 'Men usually hate using lotions, and sprays are quicker to apply and easier to apply on hairy skin, while women often suffer from dry skin and love lotions that moisturise at the same time.'

She suggests runners consider bicycling attire, especially the long-sleeved shirts made of newer materials that draw away moisture from sweat.

About 62,000 new cases of malignant melanoma are expected this year in the US along with more than a million nonmelanoma skin cancers, says the American Cancer Society.

About 8,000 are expected to die this year from malignant melanoma; nonmelanoma skin cancers will claim about 2,000 lives.

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