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The importance of sun prevention

Melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, is now one of the main causes of death by cancer for young adults.

Skin cancer is a public health crisis

The tourism industry has enjoyed a spectacular boom during the 20th century, inducing more and more Westerners to flock to the sunniest destinations. Urbanization, vacationers’ growing tastes for open-air recreation, longer vacations split up over time : numerours factors conspired to shove people into frequent, sporadic, and violent exposures to the sun. Tanned skin has become a symbol of good health and social status. As a result, melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer, is now one of the main causes of death by cancer for young adults. Read more about skin cancer [who.int]

The ozone layer, a fragilized protection

The ozone layer is a shield that protect us from harmful sun radiations by absorbing a large part of ultraviolet rays. In 1987, the Montreal protocole planned to phase out the production of a number of substances believed to be responsible for its depletion, observed ever since the 70’s. But chemical compounds have very long lifetimes : the final recovery of the ozone layer is not expected until 2050 in regions with tropical and moderate climates. Read more about the ozone layer [United Nation Environment Programme]

Preventing the dangers of sun exposure during childhood

Public health experts agrees that sun overexposure in childhood is the main factor of adult melanoma. On the one hand, open-air activities are preponderant during childhood. On the other hand, the body’s protective mechanism against the sun is not completely functional before age 15. Therefore, the World Health Organization recommends developing children-oriented, sun damage prevention programs. Doing so will save lives. Read more : Protecting children from UV radiation [who.int]

Contributing to the fight against racism

Educating schoolchildren about the sun contributes to the education of the society at large. Understanding that we are not all equally susceptible to sun-related skin disease is an opportunity to confront issues of skin color. Taboos about race and class are lifted once students make the link between skin color and the body’s adaptive responses to the sun. Putting the origins of skin color into scientific context, without prejudice or discrimination, inspires productive dialogue that fights racism.