New statistics out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention find that Utah has the highest rate of skin cancer in the nation.
Mark Hyde is a Physician Assistant on the Melanoma Team at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He says it’s a combination of risk factors that make Utahns so susceptible to melanoma.
“Number one, a lot of us are coming from European descent, and we have fair skin," he says. "Two, we’re pretty high up, so we have a higher elevation, so the closer you get to the sun the more sun damage you get, and the last one is that we have a great state so it’s fun to be outside.”
Hyde says Utah could learn a lesson in skin cancer prevention from Australia.
“One of the things Australia’s done is they’ve required kids in school to wear hats when they go to recess, and we’re exactly the opposite, we don’t allow kids to wear hats when they’re in school” he says.
Staying out of the sun is the best way to avoid skin cancer, but Hyde doesn’t want to discourage the public from enjoying the summer outdoors.
“Be healthy, be outside, enjoy the great outdoors, we’re in a great state for it, but while they’re doing it to be smart about it," he says. "Wearing sunscreen is really important. Wearing appropriate clothing is also important, and avoiding the peak hours of sunlight.”
Hyde says the best way to catch melanoma is to get annual skin checks from a dermatologist.