Once believed to be the most preventable form of cancer, new research suggests that lung cancer may now fall behind skin cancer as the most preventable form of cancer in the United States. In a recent study published by the Skin Cancer Foundation titled “International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning – A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning beds was found to be higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
In the United States alone, upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year as a direct result of indoor tanning. Out of this figure, just over 6,000 cases are malignant melanoma, the most aggressive and deadly form of skin cancer. Because this study revealed a higher rate of correlation between tanning beds and skin cancer than lung cancer to smoking, many believe it will prompt further investigation and hopefully new legislation.
“Our society recognizes the link between smoking and skin cancer but indoor tanning is somehow still a socially accepted practice,” says Dr. Ronald Savin, board-certified New Haven dermatologist at The Savin Center. “According to Skin Cancer Foundation statistics, 14 percent of adults have used indoor tanning beds in the past year. More troubling is a staggering 43 percent of college students and 18 percent of adolescents.”
To decrease your risk for skin cancer, Dr. Savin recommends the following simple tips:
- Avoid sun exposure merely for the purpose of getting a tan.
- Try to stay out of the sun between 10 AM and 2 PM when UVA & UVB rays are the strongest.
- Wear an SPF of at least 30 all year long, even in cooler months.
- Many people do not wear enough sunscreen. 2 teaspoons should be used for every extremity.
- Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours.
- If you notice a new skin growth or an existing skin growth changing in symmetry, border, color, diameter or any other changes, schedule an appointment with your dermatologist immediately.
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