Overland Park and Kansas City get low rankings for skin health

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- You've heard of sin city. There are also skin cities, places where people have better skin health. Overland Park and Kansas City, Mo., are not among them, according to new rankings of America's largest cities.

Susie Harris gets her skin checked regularly at the University of Kansas Hospital. After spending a lot of time in the sun with no protection, Harris is at high risk for skin cancer -- more skin cancer.

"I've had a melanoma on each arm and then I had a basal cell on my head," she said.

That's not so rare in our area. It's one reason why Overland Park is 95th and Kansas City, Mo., is 97th out of 150 cities in Wallethub's rankings of skin health.

It showed our climate is one factor working against us. We have extreme temperature changes.

"When there have been a string of cold days and all of a sudden, it's warm, people naturally want to get out, go to the lake, go to the pool, and that's when they can get burned," said Dr. Daniel Aires, a dermatologist at K.U. Hospital.

Sunburns are strongly linked to skin cancer, including melanoma.

A high smoking rate in Kansas City, Mo., was also a factor in that city's low skin ranking.

"There's been a wealth of data showing that cigarette smoke ages the skin. It's one of the most important drivers for skin aging and skin wrinkling," said Dr. Aires.

He says don't smoke if you want youthful skin. Also, use some sun sense.

"If someone wants to go walk the dog, just have a few minutes outside, that's fine, no need to get all covered up for that. It's the burns we need to avoid," the skin specialist added.

So slather on the sunscreen for those longer periods outdoors. Wear hats and sunglasses, too. Harris is doing that now.

"We're always at the ball park, and we camp and fish, but just have to be careful," she said.

She's trying to lower the chances of more cancers showing up on her skin.

Who ranked #1 for skin? El Paso, Texas. Its darker-skinned population has few melanomas. Port St. Lucie, Fla., ranked the worst with a high rate of skin cancer deaths.