Motormouth: Skin cancer more likely to come from sun exposure in childhood than from panoramic sunroofs

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Oct. 8, 2018

Q: I have been driving my Chevrolet Traverse with a panoramic sunroof for two years and have just had a basal cell carcinoma removed from the side of my nose. It was an extensive procedure and left me disfigured. I do not tan, so there is no question in my mind that it is a result of three long trips out West in the middle of the summer with the sun hitting me directly in this area. My question is, if it is supposedly common knowledge that sunroofs can cause skin cancer, why are there no warnings to the consumer?

— A.B., Chicago

A: We are not an authority on cancer so we shared your question with Dr. J. Leonard Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, who said: “There is evidence that suggests skin cancers can be related to long-term sun exposure through side glass windows in a car. Sunroofs generally offer more protection in order to decrease heat entering the car, so it is less likely that it had a role in a newly diagnosed cancer. Of course, an open sunroof or side window offers no protection whatsoever.

“It is not possible to state with certainty whether any particular cancer is related to these types of exposures. Usually, skin cancers take decades to develop, so it is more likely that sun exposure during childhood is a more significant factor. And the damage caused by the sun accumulates over time, making it even more difficult to know with certainty which exposure or which type of exposure may have had an impact. Based on available information, however, sunroofs appear to be a less likely cause, but not impossible. Also, different manufacturers are now using glass with different abilities to decrease UVA and UVB exposure in automobiles, so that is another factor that needs to be considered.”

Q: Wife just traded her 2010 Prius for a Kia Niro in touring trim. She mainly wanted all new safety features which could only be had with the touring model with leather seats. I avoid leather because it just doesn’t last well. Can you recommend leather care products and intervals of use to extend the life of the leather?

— J.C., Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

A: There are plenty of good leather conditioners; many can be found in the appearance care aisle of your local parts store or mega-mart. We shy away from products that claim to be good on both real leather and man-made materials. Can they really do double duty? We live in horse country of Virginia and most grooms around here use Lexol, so that is what we have been using for many years with success.

Q: I have a 2011 Honda CR-V with 108,000 miles. Approximately five months ago the “Check Fuel Cap” warning came on. I checked the cap and it was on correctly. The warning comes and goes. While at the dealer for service I was told a diagnostic check would be around $200. Do I keep on ignoring the warning or press for recall information from Honda?

— N.G., Margate, Fla.

A: Good luck if you think they will issue a recall. Make it easy on yourself — buy a new gas cap.