Heading out for a long drive with the top down or windows open? Don’t forget to buckle up—and apply sunscreen. A study out this week suggests that people in the United States are more likely to develop skin cancer on the left side of their bodies and driving could be the cause.
In the study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers from the University of Washington used a large government database to look at two particularly deadly forms of skin cancer, melanoma and Merkel cell carcinoma. They found that when the cancers occurred on just one side of the body, in more than half of cases it was the left side–particularly the left arm. Exposure to ultraviolet rays on the driver’s side is a likely contributing factor, the researchers said.
Windows do provide some protection from the sun’s dangerous rays, but you can still get a sunburn with the window up. And exposure, of course, increases with the top or window down and your arm out.
As any convertible driver knows, the cooling breeze while driving can often mask a developing sunburn. As you savor driving in the warm weather, let this serve as a reminder to apply sunscreen.