Just because it’s starting to feel more and more like winter you still need to be aware of how much sun exposure you are getting. Why? Just because its not summer any longer doesn’t mean you are no longer getting the harmful effects of the sun and the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer is on the rise. An article that appeared on CNN.com on July 30, 2014 entitled, Surgeon General Issues Skin Cancer Warning, highlights statements made by the acting United States Surgeon General Dr. Boris Lushniak regarding skin cancer. According to the article, the skin cancer epidemic “is a major health problem that requires immediate attention. Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year.”
The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer Executive Summary includes 5 Goals, or Calls to Action, on how local, state and federal governments, as well as the private sector, can support skin cancer prevention.
The 5 goals are as follows:
1. Increase Opportunities for Sun Protection in Outdoor Settings (including on the ski slopes)
2. Provide Individuals with the Information They Need to Make Informed, Healthy Choices About UV Exposure
3. Promote Policies that Advance the National Goal of Preventing Skin Cancer
4. Reduce Harms from Indoor Tanning
5. Strengthen Research, Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Related to Skin Cancer Prevention
Everyone is at Risk
It is a common myth that individuals with darker pigmented skin are protected from the risk of developing skin cancer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. According to Dr. Lushniak, “We know that the risk level for skin cancer decreases with more skin pigmentation, but no one is immune. All races are still diagnosed and still affected by UV rays.”
There are several types of skin cancer, but melanoma is the most dangerous. According to the National Cancer Institute, there will be an estimated 76,100 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in 2014 (which will be 4.6% of all new cancer cases in 2014), and there will be an estimated 9,710 deaths due to melanoma in 2014 (which will be 1.7% of all cancer deaths in 2014).
Many cases of melanoma are preventable. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently reviewing several new sunscreen ingredients for manufacture, but in the meantime, it is essential that all individuals utilize sunscreen on a daily basis with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Keep in mind that outdoor temperatures do not affect UV rays. In other words, if it’s cold outside, you are still at risk. Also, on cloudy days, you must still protect yourself.
Protect Yourself Today, Thank Yourself Tomorrow
Melanoma rates have increased more than 200% from 1973 to 2011. Tan skin is simply not worth the risk.