Surgeon General Tackles Tanning and Skin Cancer in Recent Report
It’s becoming an age-old adage: stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen and avoid indoor tanning salons, or skin cancer might come knocking. But that message was given an added sense of urgency last month by US Surgeon General Boris Lushniak himself.
Coming two months after the Food and Drug Administration’s announcement that over-18 age advisory labels will soon be added to tanning beds and lamps, The Surgeon General’s statement declared skin cancer a “major public health problem”brought about largely by indoor and outdoor exposure to ultraviolet light.
The Surgeon General is calling for more action than labeling tanning beds, mainly because skin cancer rates are increasing in the US, unlike rates for many other forms of cancer which remain steady or fall. $8.1 billion is spent each year treating the 5 million people in the US who require treatment.
63,000 of these cases consist of severe melanoma, and out of those, 6,000 are directly related to indoor tanning. Lushniek, a dermatologist, even goes so far to say that it’s impossible to avoid UV radiation exposure when using indoor tanning services.
Lushniek’s report calls for more states to join in the fight against skin cancer by place more restrictions on the practice or banning indoor tanning for minors altogether. 44 states have some form of restriction on indoor tanning.
Individuals are called upon to reduce their own sun exposure with hats, sunscreen, sunglasses and shade, and urban planners are encouraged to provide shade areas for people to enjoy themselves outdoors.
“When out in the sun, it is important to wear an appropriate sunblock to protect you from harmful UV rays,” says Aimee Quigley,National Sales Executive – CIDESCO Diplomat/Esthetician, Hylunia. “In order to ensure you’re using a sunscreen that’s safe for you, choose a sunscreen contains the effective ingredients zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide. It is also important to use a sunscreen that protects against UVA rays, which cause collagen and elastic breakdown that eventually leads to deep wrinkles.
Fortunately, teen use of tanning devices has dropped since the World Health Organization declared indoor tanning beds cancer causing in 2009. The percentage of teens using tanning services in 2009 was 15.6%, a statistic which dropped to 12.8% in 2013, according to the CDC.
It remains to be seen whether Lushniak’s report that “tanned skin is damaged skin” will make a similar impact in years to come.