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Pregnancy & Melanoma: What every mom needs to know

Posted by The Spoiled Mama on

At The Spoiled mama, it's all about safety first. We talk a lot about the dangers in common household products, cosmetics and pregnancy skin care; however, a new report has worrying news on yet another maternity scare: skin cancer.


Melanoma, the fifth common cancer in the United States, seems to be increasing among young women, with a great risk found in expectant or newly postpartum mothers.

A new report from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reveals that in a study of 462 women, those who were pregnant or recently postpartum  were nine times more likely to have melanoma return, and five times more likely to die from the cancer. According to researcher Brian Gastman, M.D., the results were a bit of a surprise:

"The rate of metastasis, recurrence and death in our findings were astounding -- as the rates were measurably higher in women who were diagnosed with melanoma while pregnant, or within one year after delivery."

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and researchers believe pregnancy hormones may be responsible for fostering the cancer.  Additionally, pregnancy weaken a woman's immune system, which may exasperate cancer growth.

So, what's a Mama to do?

If you're pregnant or had a baby within the past year, make sure to regularly scan your body for new spots or changes in an existing freckle or mole. In addition, women given the diagnosis of melanoma during or within 1 year after childbirth, regular follow-up and monitoring for recurrence are recommended. With melanoma rates on the rise for the past 30 years, here are some skin care tips from the Mayo Clinic to reduce your risk of skin cancer:
  • Avoid the sun during mid-day. For US Mamas, the sun's rays are strongest between 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Wear sunscreen...always. This is probably our most important beauty and pregnancy skin care tip. Not only does daily use protect skin from premature aging, a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 will help filter the sun's harmful UV rays. (P.S. If you're using a mask of pregnancy treatment, sunscreen is an absolute must!)
  • Wear protective clothing. Opt for wide-brimmed hats, dark and tightly woven clothing and sunglasses when possible.
  • Skip the tanning lamps and beds. While you may get a "healthy" glow, tanning lamps and beds emit UV rays that can increase your risk of skin cancer. (Bonus tip: Tanning also exasperates the appearance of old stretch marks, and deters the healing of new pregnancy stretch marks.)

Let us know, does this change the way you address your skin care or health care? What are your favorite SPF products? Share below!

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