WASHINGTON (AP) -
Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon
general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200
percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.
The report blames a
generation of sun worshipping for the $8 billion spent to treat all forms of
skin cancer each year.
Rear Adm. Boris
Lushniak said state and local officials need to do more to help people cover
up, such as providing more shade at parks and sporting events. Schools
should encourage kids to wear hats and sunscreen and schedule outdoor
activities when the sun is low in the sky. And colleges and universities
should eliminate indoor tanning beds on campus much as they would prohibit
tobacco use, he added.
"We need more
states and institutions on board with these policies that discourage or
restrict indoor tanning by our youth,” Lushniak said. “Tanned skin is
general’s “call to action” plan is part of a broader push this year by
government officials and public health advocates to raise awareness on what
they say has become a major public health problem. While other cancers such
as lung cancer are decreasing, skin cancer is rising rapidly. According to
the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 million people are treated
for skin cancer each year. And the number of Americans with skin cancer in
the past three decades eclipse the number of all other cancers combined.
Melanoma is the
deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying each year from the
mostly preventable disease.
Stacey Escalante of
Las Vegas, Nevada, blames years of sunbathing with baby oil and using indoor
tanning beds for her melanoma diagnosis in 2005. The mother of two was a
34-year-old television reporter training for a marathon when she found a
small red growth the size of a pencil eraser on her lower back. By the time
she saw a doctor, the cancer had traveled to her lymph node, requiring two
surgeries that left an 8-inch scar. She then spent two years on an
Escalante said she
realizes now that she was lucky to survive, and was foolish to think she was
immune to skin cancer because her father was Hispanic and she tanned well.
Now an advocate for early detection, Escalante is pushing for state
legislation prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning beds.
Research Foundation says exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a
person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.
“If only I had
first gone to the doctor, when I first saw that spot, instead of ignoring
it, I would have saved my family and myself ... the emotional, physical and
financial burden of skin cancer,” she said. “It was absolutely
assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human
Services, said skin cancer prevention needs to become a bigger part of daily
“We need to change
the social norm with respect to tanning and shatter the myth that tanned
skin is somehow a sign of health,” Koh said.
doing regular skin checks for new moles and seeing a doctor if any change in
size, shape or color. Doctors also recommend applying at least 1 ounce of
sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to exposed skin and reapplying every two
hours, more if swimming or sweating. Children in particular should be
protected because bad sunburns in childhood are thought to greatly increase
risk later in life.