Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, with over 5 million cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight is the main cause of skin cancer. While some sun exposure is needed for the body to produce vitamin D, excessive exposure can damage skin cells and lead to the development of skin cancers. Several factors can increase a person’s risk of developing skin cancer from UV radiation exposure.
The three main types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common and least dangerous type, while melanoma is less common but more likely to spread if not caught early. Knowing the causes of skin cancers can help individuals take preventative measures to protect their skin and lower their cancer risk. The following are 15 leading causes and risk factors for developing skin cancer:
1Ultraviolet Radiation from Sunlight
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is the primary environmental cause of skin cancer. UV rays damage the DNA in skin cells, causing genetic mutations that can lead to cancerous growths. Exposure to natural sunlight and artificial tanning from lamps and beds is the leading preventable cause of skin cancers. The risk increases with the amount and intensity of exposure.