06/15/2011 04:48 pm ET | Updated Aug 15, 2011

Driving May Contribute To Skin Cancer: Study

Before you head out on your summer road trip, consider this. Researchers have discovered a link between driving and deadly forms of skin cancer.

From USA Today:

New research suggests that people in the USA are more likely to develop skin cancer, such as melanoma and merkel cell carcinoma, on the left side of their bodies. Driving may be to blame, because the left arm receives more UV, say researchers from the University of Washington in Seattle, who analyzed cancer cases in a government database.

They found that when skin cancer occurred on one side of the body, 52% of melanoma cases and 53% of merkel cell carcinomas were on the left side. On the upper arms, 55% of merkel cell cases developed on the left side. The study, published online in April by the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, provides the strongest evidence to date of a left-side bias in skin cancer cases in the USA.

The results were based on more than 84,000 recorded cases of skin cancer.

The study's co-author, Paul Nghiem said people who drive with their windows closed shouldn't feel inclined to put sunscreen on before they hop in the car. But for those who like a cool breeze when they're on the road, sunscreen would be wise, Nghiem said.

In 2010, a St. Louis University study showed a correlation between more time spent driving and a higher incidence of left-sided skin cancers, especially on sun-exposed areas in men.

The latest skin cancer news comes just as the Food and Drug Administration announced new rules designed to increase effectiveness of sunscreens and make them easier to use.