Summertime Protection

Editor’s note: This post has been edited to reflect changes in our product.sun

It’s summertime, you’ve got the beach chair, a trashy novel and sunscreen, but do you have your 23andMe results?

As the days get longer and people squeeze in a little vacation time, our exposure to the sun’s harmful rays goes up and so too does our need to protect against overexposure. Both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers have been linked to genetics and sun exposure.

23andMe’s Health and Trait reports look at some of the genetic variants linked to skin cancer, the most common form of cancer in the United States. While everyone should protect themselves from too much sun, some people – particularly those with light skin, fair hair and a genetic risk for skin cancer – should be particularly vigilant.

The exact causes of melanoma are not known, but exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or tanning lamps greatly increases the risk of developing the disease.

The American Academy of Dermatology has developed the “ABCDEs” of melanoma to help people recognize melanomas and distinguish them from harmless moles. People should look out for moles that are Asymmetrical, have irregular Borders, have variations in Color, are larger than about a quarter inch in Diameter or are Evolving (changing) over time.