Spending a lot of time driving a car may increase your risk of skin cancer – especially on the exposed parts of your body on the side next to the car window .The risk is increased even among people who keep their car windows closed.
In most cars, only the glass in the windshield is the type that blocks both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. The glass in the side and rear windows keeps out only UVB rays, not UVA. Blocking UVB prevents sunburn, but it does not completely protect against skin cancer.
If you spend any time in your car consider limiting your open air driving to an open sunroof, and only if you wear a hat. That’s because a new study shows a link between driving and the incidence of skin cancer on the left sides of people who drive a lot — the side exposed to the sun.
Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle have found that Americans have a tendency to develop the worst forms of skin cancer – notably melanomas and merkel cell carcinomas – on the left side of their bodies. There is an especially high incidence of cancers discovered on the upper arm, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
This report adds to a growing body of evidence that driving can increase a motorist’s exposure to ultra-violet (UV) light, which is linked to skin cancer. In countries like the U.S., where drivers sit on the left side of their car, studies have found more cancers form on the left side. Other research, including a 1986 report from Australia, found that in countries where the steering wheel is situated on the other side of the vehicle, there are more cancers and pre-cancerous growths on the right side of a driver.
That’s pretty compelling evidence that driving has a big impact on incidence of skin cancer.
Another group of people who may be at high risk of skin damage from UVA rays transmitted through car windows is babies and children who spend a lot of time in the car. Babies and young children usually ride in the back seat, where all of the glass around them is the type that does not block UVA rays.
The solution is rather simple. Auto glass today filters out most of the bad UV that can cause skin cancer, so driving with windows up and the air conditioner on is a better choice, even though your fuel economy will be worse. Too, side glass does not have quite as much UV blocking material as windshields.
Not only is the sun’s UV Rays harmful to your skin but will also damage the interior of your vehicle. Material that is exposed to UV rays will fade and crack causing irreversible damage to your car’s interior. The cost is minimal in comparison to the value of your health and the contents of your valuables.