Armed or Amused: Linking Driving to Skin Cancer?

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having-more-then-11-moles-on-right-arm-is-one-of-melanoma-skin-cancer-symptomsWhile hardly comprehensive, British scientists have found an interesting way of determining a person's risk of developing skin cancer it involves moles, driving and where you do it. So if you're often behind the wheel, when you're done reading this take a look at your right arm, if you live in the United Kingdom or your left if you're in the United States.

Researchers, led by Simone Ribero, from the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King s College, U.K., found that having more than 11 moles on your arm is a sign of a greater risk of developing skin cancer. The study analyzed data from 3,600 female twins, including: skin type, eye color, freckles, as well as mole counts on 17 different body areas.

A mole count is one of the most accurate predictors of risk for skin cancer, and experts believe that each mole increases your chances two-to-four percent. But counting the entire body is tedious, and as a result, more efficient ways to estimate mole counts have long been sought in order to identify at-risk patients.

The scientists noted that the right arm was best for accurately estimating the total number of moles a person had on their body. Participants with more than seven moles on their right arm had nine times the likelihood of having more than 50 on their whole body. While those with more than 11 right-arm-moles were most likely to have more than 100 moles.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, adults with lighter skin often will have about 10 to 40 moles, which is normal. But skin monitoring is still advised.

But why is the right arm significant?

In England, the steering wheel is located on the right side of the vehicle; therefore, a driver s right arm is more likely to be exposed to excessive sunlight. In the U.S. it would be the left arm that should be examined, since the driver's seat is on the opposite side.

It's estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, and that 74,000 cases of invasive melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer will be diagnosed in 2015, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.