(CNN) — What makes sunshine cause cancer? Too much of the sun’s UV rays can damage our skin’s DNA causing some parts to literally get glued together and malfunction. If this happens over and over again, this can lead to cancer.
“Anything that causes DNA damage is a carcinogen, which means it causes cancer,” said dermatologist Dr. Rutledge Forney.
And, experts say, getting even one blistering sunburn significantly increase the risk for melanoma–the deadliest form of skin cancer.
So if you’re out by the pool or at the beach, do what the doctor says: avoid midday sun, lather up with sunscreen, wear a hat and a swim shirt or other protective clothing. And get to your dermatologist each year for a skin check. He or she will look for changes in your moles, but also new or changing spots on your skin, which could be dark or even red.
“We know that 40 percent of melanomas don’t start in moles. They just come up out of the blue,” Dr. Forney said.
They’re often triggered by previous sunburns. If you grew up spending time in the sun, don’t panic, but do keep any eye out for changes in your skin. And, experts say, you shouldn’t be fooled that sunbeds are a safer alternative.
“The excessibility of tanning beds has caused an increase in the rate of young people with melanomas. And it’s a very serious problem,” Dr. Forney said.