UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:55am
BROWNSVILLE — "My biggest battle in the valley, since I've been here, is trying to convince the valley population that they really are at risk for getting skin cancer of all types really," says Dermatologist, Dr. Michael Hohnadel.
Our close proximity to the equator makes our sun rays more intense.
"There's actually more intense UV light down here in the valley than somewhere northern latitude," says Dr. Hohnadel.
Frequenting the beach and working outside in agricultural jobs, Hohnadel says, exposes much of our population to more UV rays over a lifetime.
“Sun exposure is the primary risk factor over all major types of skin cancer be it melanoma, basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma," says Dr. Hohnadel.
New reports out from several medical journals this month show that young women between the ages of 15-39 are being diagnosed with melanoma at much higher rates. The target area for the skin damage in these young women is most often found on a woman's lower body, while the least common area is her foot, with only about 3% of melanoma rates affecting that part of the body.
"I probably take off a melanoma every couple of weeks here in the office of somebody who was born in this region," says Dr. Hahnadel.
Melanoma is the third most lethal type of skin cancer and the Center for Disease reports that the annual diagnosis for melanoma has been increasing 3% over the last two decades.
"If you can limit your sun exposure, limit your UV exposure, you will decrease your risk of getting skin cancer," says the doctor.