Last week the public got a serious wake up call from the Surgeon General, who deemed skin cancer a “major pubic health concern that requires immediate action” in the Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer issued Tuesday morning. While the release of the report was thrilling news for those of us in the melanoma community, it was also rather old news, as the report touched on nearly every aspect of skin cancer prevention and sun safety that many of us have been preaching for years. Nonetheless, we are so excited to see the much needed attention this serious health issue is getting now. Here are a few key points we wanted to pull from the Call to Action and really emphasize (Click here for the full report):
- Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, and most cases are preventable.
Did you know that as many as 90% of melanomas (the deadliest form of skin cancer) are estimated to be caused by UV exposure? That is a scary-high number…but if we look at this figure from a positive standpoint, it suggests that 90% of melanomas can be prevented by reducing intentional UV exposure (and increasing sun protection!).
- Medical treatment for skin cancer creates substantial health care costs for individuals, families, and the nation.
The estimated costs for skin cancer treatments are currently 8.1 BILLION. That’s a ton of money that could be used towards more enjoyable and productive things, like education, travel, home improvements, recreational activities, (you get the idea…).
- No evidence exists to suggest that indoor tanning is safer than tanning outdoors
None. It just doesn’t exist. Let that sink in. Many tanning salon owners will use the defense that tanning indoors is a regulated amount of exposure, whereas tanning outdoors is not, so it’s somehow safer. You also may have heard the argument that tanning indoors provides you with a “base tan” that will protect against sunburn. Both of these arguments hold no ground for 2 BIG reasons. The first reason: NO TAN is ever safe, period. A tan is your body’s response to skin damage, so if you’re tanning indoors or outdoors, neither option is a “safe” option. The second reason: indoor tanning provides intense, shorter spurts of UV exposure, that can be more powerful than sunshine. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action mentions studies that have shown (depending on the device used) the amount of UV rays being omitted from a tanning device can be anywhere from 4-13x stronger than what someone would be exposed to on a midsummer day in the District of Columbia. Yikes.
- With adequate support and a unified approach, comprehensive, communitywide efforts to prevent skin cancer CAN work.
Our company stands by this 100%. UV Skinz has been supporting skin cancer awareness events and public efforts to promote sun safety for years. With more support, knowledge, and backing, we can all work together to prevent skin cancer (seriously!).
So, what can you do to prevent skin cancer developing in yourself and others? For starters–if you’re a parent–the sun protection habits of your children and future generations will be largely dependent on YOU. Your attitudes and behaviors regarding sun safety will be passed on to them and likely practiced by them, so what example to you want to set? …We hope a good one! Not sure how? Well, we will tell you!
Wear Protective Clothing: Sun Protective Clothing is a great and convenient way to protect yourself and your family from damaging and deadly UV radiation. Our sun protection apparel company, UV Skinz, was founded in 2006 after CEO Rhonda Sparks lost her husband to melanoma. This loss was devastating to Rhonda, and left her with 3 young boys and nowhere to turn. While losing Darren was life-altering for Rhonda and her family, she chose to turn her loss into something positive, and inspired her to create a sun protective apparel line that would allow families the convenience to enjoy their lives together out in the sun while ensuring they were UV protected.
Seek the Shade: During peak midday hours (10am-4pm) the sun’s radiation is the most powerful, and potentially deadly, so be sure to seek the shade during these times in particular. Because shade doesn’t block all UV radiation however (including scattered or reflected UV rays), this method should be combined with other methods, including wearing sun protective clothing, uv protective sunglasses, and a wide brimmed hat.
Use Sunscreen: Sunscreen should be used in addition to wearing protective clothing and accesories and seeking shade. We recommend using a broad spectrum sunscreen (to protect against both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher, and applying a good amount at least 30 minutes prior to exposure to ensure proper absorption time. Keep in mind this should be reapplied every two hours and after swimming or excessive sweating.
Avoid Indoor Tanning and Outdoor Sunbathing: Both excessive/unprotected sun exposure AND indoor tanning are associated with an increased risk of developing skin cancer. Just don’t do it.