Amanda MacMillan, SELF magazine
You know how some people can follow recommended precautions and still end up with the dreaded C-word, while others spend their lives behaving badly--oiled up in a tanning bed, for example--and manage to escape scot-free? The answer isn't just about luck, of course; rather, it's a combination of genetics, ethnicity and other environmental factors--and now scientists say they've developed a way to better predict an individual's risk for developing the most common type of cancer.
See more: Foods That Fight Belly Bloat
Yes, protecting yourself from ultraviolet rays is still important for everyone; it's estimated that 80 percent of melanoma cases are caused by UV damage. But as much as we know that's true, so many of us still skimp, or totally skip out, on our SPF routine. One reason may be because we look toward those people who set a bad example but don't pay the price--we see celebrities often soaking up rays in the news, for example.
See more: 20 Superfoods for Weight Loss
That's why researchers at the universities of Alabama at Birmingham and Wisconsin-Madison teamed up to find a better way to predict a person's individual risk of actually getting cancer, sun exposure notwithstanding. Their results, published today in the journal Genetics, showed that by looking at more than 5,000 people's medical records and analyzing a combo of factors like like family history, gender, ethnicity, and specific genetic markers, they were able to much more accurately predict which participants had developed skin cancer over the course of the study.
This "risk assessment model" is still in developmental stages, and it may not be available in your doctor's office anytime soon. But hopefully it's paving the way for a better test down the road--and earlier, more targeted preventative measures for those who really need it. (Plus, on this dreary December day, we just wanted to write a blog post with a tropical beach photo.)
See more: Yoga Moves for Flat Abs
What do you think: Would knowing that you have a higher than average chance of developing skin cancer make you more careful in the sun, or more likely to get suspicious spots checked out sooner? Until then, better safe than sorry: Wear a product with SPF on exposed skin year-round, give yourself regular self exams (download a how-to chart here!), and stay far, far away from beds and booths--no matter what your super-tan friend says.
More from SELF:
6 Moves for a Great Butt
5 Simple Steps to Cellulite-Free Skin
3 CrossFit Total-Body Workouts
6 Secrets to Firing Up Your Metabolism