Skin Cancer Linked to Frequent Driving
Early Research Finds Left-Sided Cancer Pattern in Male Drivers
Feb. 2, 2007 -- You might want to slather on the sunscreen before getting
behind the wheel. Early research results suggest driving a lot can raise your
chances of skin cancer.
Early findings from the St. Louis University study were presented yesterday
at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) in
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., with more than a million
cases diagnosed each year.
"Our initial findings confirm that there is a correlation between more
time spent driving and a higher incidence of left-sided skin cancers,
especially on sun-exposed areas in men," St. Louis University researcher
Scott Fosko, MD, says in an AAD news release.
Fosko and colleagues looked at 1,047 skin cancer patients, most of whom had
nonmelanoma skin cancers.
Just over half -- 53% -- had skin cancers on the left side of their
The researchers focused on places likely to be exposed while driving -- the
left arm, left hand, and the left side of the head and neck.
Men were particularly likely to have skin cancer in those areas.
The finding "supports the hypothesis that this may be due to UV
[ultraviolet] exposure while driving," Fosko's team writes.
But the left-sided pattern wasn't seen in women.
"This gender difference may be attributed to the practice of males
riding on the left side of the car more frequently," write the
The patients also completed questionnaires about their driving habits.
Results from those questionnaires weren't ready when the researchers wrote
their abstract for the AAD meeting.
But in the news release, Fosko says the initial data "shows that those
individuals under age 70, who consistently spent the most time per week driving
a car, were more likely to develop left-sided skin cancers."
"We're also finding that all drivers who occasionally drive with the
windows open had a higher incidence of left-sided skin cancers," Fosko
Light skin was another skin cancer risk factor, Fosko notes.
According to the AAD, most front windshields are designed to block the sun's
ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, while side and rear windows
are typically designed to block only UVB rays.
Tinting or using UV filters on auto glass may help, along with wearing
broad-spectrum sunscreen and protective clothing, Fosko notes in the news