Posts Tagged ‘skin cancer’

Indoor Tanning & Tanning Beds – the Bad, the Ugly and the Uglier

Indoor Tanning & Skin CancerOne in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. It is the most common of all cancers and accounts for nearly half of all cancer cases in the United States. More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are found in the U.S. each year. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, will account for 70,230 new skin cancer diagnoses in 2011, according to the American Cancer Society. Now, let’s juxtapose these numbers with the fact that nearly 30 million people tan indoors in tanning beds in the U.S. every year and 2.3 million of them are teens. Furthermore, on an average day, over one million Americans use tanning salons1.

So, just how bad are tanning beds and does the increase in their use correlate with the increase in melanoma incidence rates over the last 30 years? Findings released in 2009 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, an affiliate of the World Health organization, demonstrate that indoor tanning beds and tanning devices are more dangerous than we previously thought, and as a result, the IARC moved UV tanning devices such as tanning beds from their Group 2A category, “probably carcinogenic to humans,” to their Group 1 list of the most dangerous cancer causing agents. Inclusion of a cancer causing agent or substance is listed in the IARC’s Group 1 means that agent or substance is definitely carcinogenic to humans. Other agents listed in Group 1 include plutonium and cigarettes.

As is mentioned above, 2.3 million of the people using indoor tanning beds and devices in the U.S. are teens. Because skin cancers such as melanoma can take a substantial amount of time to develop, along with moving tanning devices into their Group 1 category, the IARC also now recommends banning commercial indoor tanning use for people under the age of 18 in an effort to lower their risk for developing skin cancer later in life.

Back in 2006, the IARC took its efforts to identify the impact indoor tanning can have on skin cancer risk a step further by evaluating 19 studies conducted over 25 years that looked at the relationship between indoor tanning and skin cancer. Findings from this evaluation reveal:

  • there is an association between UV-emitting tanning devices and ocular melanoma (cancer of the eye)
  • there is an association between indoor tanning and both squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, two dangerous forms of skin cancer
  • the DNA damage caused by UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer in laboratory animals. Most indoor tanning beds and devicese emit UVS rays.

But, the most notable finding from their evaluation is a scary one– the risk of developing melanoma skin cancer increases by 75% when indoor tanning device and tanning bed use starts before the age of 35.2

Hopefully these numbers and findings are enough to make you reconsider using tanning beds this summer and in future years. As the research continues to pour in, it becomes more and more clear just how dangerous indoor tanning (and outdoor tanning, for that matter) are.

For more information on tanning beds and the risks associated with their use, visit: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm There you can also find guidelines for how to reduce your risk for skin cancer in you do decide to continue tanning indoors. But we encourage you to change your tanning habits and prioritize your health! If you’re seeking a golden bronze glow, why not try self-tanning lotions? What else do you recommend for lowering risk for skin cancer or alternatives to tanning? Let us know in the comments area below!

1: http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/
2: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm186687.htm

Top 5 Skin Protection & Skin Cancer Prevention Tips for UV Safety Month (and year round!)

UV Safety

Over the past 31 years, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. Perhaps even more alarming– 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. The main cause of skin cancer is exposure to UV radiation from the sun. With summer heat at its peak and because July is UV Safety Month, we’ve put together some tips to help you stay safe(r) when in the sun.

There’s No Such Thing as a Safe Tan

A recent article appearing in HealthDay confirms what those around the medical field have known for quite some time– there is no such thing as a safe tan. During summer months attendance at tanning salons skyrockets with people attempting to achieve a golden “base tan” to build on throughout the summer. But the notion of a base tan being a safe and affective way to achieve a bronze summer glow is simply false. “Tanning beds have become a particular hazard. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the devices as within its highest cancer risk category — basically as potentially carcinogenic as cigarettes,” the article notes. And as Dr. James Spencer, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology board of directors adds, “The bottom line is excessive UV exposure increases your risk of skin cancer, whether you are indoors or outdoors.” So if you’re seeking a golden bronze glow, stay away from the tanning salon and if anything, take a step into your local pharmacy or grocery story where you can purchase temporary and topical bronzing creams and lotions.

Protect Yourself – “Slip! Slop! Slap! And Wrap!”

The American Cancer Society has a cool awareness campaign around UV safety to help you keep top of mind 4 easy steps you can take to protect yourself from damaging UV rays.

  • Slip on a shirt
  • Slop on sunscreen
  • Slap on a hat
  • Wrap on sunglasses

These 4 simple steps will help keep you protected from harmful UV radiation.

Assess Yourself

Check your skin regularly (at least monthly) for growth of new moles and changes to existing ones. New moles, moles that have changed in color or texture (i.e. darken or become raised), moles thath ave grown and changed in size, and sores that won’t heal are all changes you’ll want to keep track of and possibly have checked by your doctor. The National Cancer Institute has some great resources and advice on how to check your skin for potentially harmful developments.

Avoid the Obvious

A little common sense will go a long way when it comes to UV safety. Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, particularly during peak hours (10am-4pm) and as you read above, stay away from tanning beds. When possible, it’s also a good idea to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun when near water, snow, or sand, all of which reflect the sun’s rays and can increase chances of burning.

Know Your Skin Cancer Risk

Any person can get skin cancer, but the risk is higher for groups of people with lighter coloring. In general, if you have blond or red hair, blue or green eyes, and white or light-colored skin with freckles, you may be at a higher risk for developing skin cancer. Furthermore, if you have a family history of skin cancer, are frequently exposed to the sun via work and/or play, or have a history of sunburns or regular indoor tanning, you could also be at a higher risk. For help assessing your risk for skin cancer, check out the CDC’s information on skin cancer risk factors.

What else? Did we miss anything? What do you do to stay sun safe and how do you encourage your friends and family to do the same? Let us know in the comments below!