Driving & Skin Cancer

By: Autria Godfrey
By: Autria Godfrey

May 2, 2007

World War II veteran, Dutch Vogt, has undergone more than seven surgeries during the last 25 years, battling skin cancer.

"I spent six and a half years in the service all during World War II, and we were out at sea exposed to the sun and the salt air. You know that really will get you," Vogt said.

But now, new research is comparing the amount of time spent behind the wheel with the amount of skin cancer along the left side of the body.

"The ultraviolet rays, ultraviolet A rays, can pass through the side windows of the passenger or the driver. The windshield is definitely more protective, but there is definitely a certain percentage that passes through your side windows," Dr. Brett Krasner, a dermatologist, explained.

According to Dr. Krasner, even the protective tint job on today's cars doesn't offer much protection, leaving places we typically don't think about exposed and vulnerable to the sun's harsh rays.

"One of the places that surprised me was the tops of hands. If you think about it, the tops of your hands are exposed everyday of your life that we go outside, and we never put sunscreen there, we never think to," Dr. Krasner said.

Having spent years on the road, and with several lesions on his left-hand side, Vogt has questioned the idea too.

"I've wondered about that, cause I've driven a lot in my lifetime," Vogt said.

For those sun seekers still avoiding the sunscreen, Dr. Krasner has this. "If you want to know what the sun does to your skin, think about a raisin and remember this raisin started as a plump tight-skinned glistening grape before it was laid in the sun and had time to shrivel, have the skin thicken, become dehydrated and become that shriveled raisin that you see."

The study is still ongoing and researchers from St. Louis University said more work is still needed before hard facts can be published.

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