Pediatricians have a long and honorable tradition of efforts to prevent disease. In recent years the scope of these efforts has expanded to include the continuing health of our patients throughout their lives. It is now clear that the task of educating parents and children about the long-term consequences of excessive sun exposure on the health of the skin is an important addition to this role. Basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin, by far the most common malignancies in our adult population, have been clearly linked epidemiologically to chronic, excessive solar injury. The damage from sun exposure is cumulative. Because a substantial fraction of exposures occur during childhood and adolescence, it has been estimated that more than three quarters of these cancers could be prevented by the regular use of sunscreens during the first two decades of life.
- Copyright © 1989 by the American Academy of Pediatrics