This past Tuesday, the United States surgeon general issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer, calling it a major public health problem that requires immediate action.
Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. According to the American Cancer Society, more cases of skin cancer are diagnosed annually than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer cases combined and skin cancer rates are increasing.
“We all need to take an active role to prevent skin cancer by protecting our skin outdoors and avoiding intentional sun exposure and indoor tanning,” said Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH.
I say this all the time, but it bears repeating as often as possible:
“Most skin cancer is 100 percent preventable.”
Most cases of melanoma – as many as 90 percent – are believed to be caused by cumulative exposure to UV rays. UV rays are also a major risk factor for the most common curable forms of skin cancer, basal and squamous cell skin cancers. Exposure to UV rays comes from the sun and other sources like tanning beds and sunlamps and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that tanning beds and sunlamps carry a warning stating people under 18 should not use them. Lushniak said there is a flawed perception in the US that tanned skin looks healthy, and that needs to change. I always say,
“Tanned skin is damaged skin.”
According to the Melanoma Education Foundation, One blistering sunburn before age 20 doubles your lifetime risk of melanoma. Three or more blistering sunburns before age 20 multiplies your lifetime risk by five.
Reduce your risk of skin cancer for yourself and your children:
- Whenever spending time in the sun, always wear a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays of 15 SPF or higher.
- Reapply to dry skin every time you come out of the water. And reapply at least every 2 hours regardless of SPF.
- Use a full 1 ounce of sunscreen (that’s a shot glass full) to cover your body and don’t forget, neck and ears, face and tops of feet and if your have thinning hair, your scalp!
- Wear a hat to protect eyes and face and seek shade often.
- Remember, babies under 6 months old should never spend any prolonged time in the sun.
-Jodi, proud owner of a lily white complexion.