What Causes Skin Cancer?

what causes skin cancer

Do you know that about one million people in the US are diagnosed with skin cancer every year? Moreover, approximately 57,180 men and 62,600 women are estimated to develop skin cancer in the US in 2022

The increased incidence rate of skin cancer has emerged as a rising threat worldwide, especially in the fair-skinned population. UV sun rays, ozone layer depletion, ionizing radiations, and pollutants are the most common causative agents of skin cancer. Let’s have a deeper look at it! 

Why Does Skin Cancer Develop?

Abnormal growth of skin cells resulting from DNA mutation (changes in normal DNA sequence) in skin cells causes skin cancer. In this disease, the skin can’t get rid of dead or old cells; rather, they build up with new cells causing malignant growth of abnormal cells. 

What Causes Skin Cancer?

Sun’s UV Radiations 

The major cause of skin cancer is unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. A study reveals that about 95% of melanomas (the most lethal type of skin cancer) develop due to exposure to harmful UV rays of the sun. 

Remember that UV rays are equally dangerous in summer and winter. Moreover, certain medicines may also lead to enhanced skin sensitivity toward sunlight. So, ensure using good quality sunscreen (with SPF 30 or above) on your face and other exposed body parts before going outside.


Genetic mutation (abnormal DNA changes) plays a huge role in causing skin cancer. Normally, new healthy skin cells keep producing while tumor suppressor genes destroy older cells. However, any genetic defect may malfunction tumor suppressor genes, thus causing uncontrolled cell production and growth without dying older cells.  

Weakened Immune System

Usually, people with a weak immune system are more prone to developing skin cancer. Certain diseases such as HIV, autoimmune disorders, and chronic kidney and liver disease may suppress immunity. Moreover, some immunosuppressant drugs used for organ transplantation may also develop certain cancer signs, especially skin cancer.  

Ozone Layer Depletion

The ozone layer around the earth protects the skin from harmful UV rays of the sun, specifically UVA, UVB, and UVC. However, this layer is constantly depleting, thus leading to increased skin exposure to harmful UV rays, hence chances of increased risk of skin cancer. 

Environmental Pollutants

The level of environmental pollutants has dramatically increased worldwide, especially in under-developed countries. When these pollutants contact the skin, they might cause skin infections or even severe skin diseases such as skin cancer.

Research indicates that UV radiations, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals such as arsenic or lead are the most common pollutants causing skin cancer.

Bottom Line

You can prevent skin cancer by taking precautions such as applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, and protecting your skin from UV rays. Moreover, consult your doctor if you detect any unexpected changes to your skin. Keep in mind that skin cancer can be curable if diagnosed early.

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