Friday, August 3, 2012

There's Something Fishy Going on

When you hear the word “tobacco,” you might think of North Carolina.  Likewise, when you hear the word “Olympics,” you might think of London or Greece.  Hearing the words “skin cancer” or “melanoma” might not make you think of a place, but if it did, it should be Australia.   While 1 in 5 Americans can expect to have some type of skin cancer in their lifetime, a staggering 2 out of 3 Australians face the same fate.  But why is that?

Right above their heads is…nothing.  There should be an ozone layer, which naturally blocks about 90% of all UVB rays.  However, there’s a huge hole in the ozone layer around Antarctica and it extends over Australia.  Because of this, our friends down under are more susceptible to the sun’s more harmful rays.  So much so that even the fish are getting melanoma!

Yes, you read that right.  It’s been reported that fish have been found in the Great Barrier Reef with large dark lesions which scientists speculate could have only been caused by UV rays.  A spokesperson stated, “Further works needs to be carried out to establish the exact cause of the cancer but having eliminated other likely factors such as microbial pathogens and marine pollution, UV radiation appears to be the most likely cause.”

The ozone layer was noticed to be decreasing back in the late 1970’s.  Human kind started to take action by reducing or banning the use of halocarbons and fluorocarbons, which was thought to have an adverse effect on the ozone layer.  The reduction seemed to start working as the ozone hole finally stopped growing during the mid 1990’s.  Still, today the hole covers about 27 million square kilometers…about three times the size of Australia.

The discovery of these fish (15% of all coral trout were found to have the melanoma-like lesions) suggests that we’re still being bombarded by dangerous levels of UV radiation.  And while there’s a big hole in our southern hemisphere, you can bet the ozone layer over our heads in the States is probably less than what it used to be as well.

The folks on the pro-tanning side like to claim that the increase in melanoma over the years is a fabrication of sunscreen manufacturers and dermatologists who want to fatten their wallets.  They call it the Great Sun Scare.  If this were true, how would this explain this discovery in fish?  It doesn’t.  The fact is, we have to deal with increased UV radiation in our lifetimes and take the necessary precautions…wear sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and get your skin checked every year!

This is one fish tale we have to believe.

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