What Causes Melanoma?

Causes of melanoma and how it can be prevented

Skin cancers can be caused by overexposure to the sun and ultraviolet rays. The sun’s rays damage your skin and frequent sun exposure, even if you don’t burn, can lead to skin cancer. Just one blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence more than doubles your chances of developing melanoma later in life.

Tanning beds, a growing epidemic with teens and young adults, are not a safe alternative. They expose the skin to ultraviolet rays at a higher percentage than the sun. In fact, there is no safe tan—either from the sun or a tanning bed.

Here are ways to protect your skin

  • Minimize exposure to the midday sun (10 a.m.–4 p.m.) by seeking shade
  • Wear clothing, hats, and sunglasses that protect the skin
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UV-A and UV-B protection) with a sun-protection factor (SPF) between 30-50 year round
  • Examine your skin regularly and report changes or concerns to your doctor
  • Do not use sunlamps or tanning beds
    • Tanning beds are 13% to 15% higher in UV radiation than the sun
    • UV radiation from artificial sources is identified as a known cancer causing source
    • Many states have enacted legislation to restrict the use of tanning beds by minors