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Data Show Incidence of Skin Cancer Rising at Alarming Rate

Dermatologists warn spring breakers, young people to practice proper sun protection to reduce risk of future skin cancers

NEW ORLEANS Feb. 4, 2011

Brett M. Coldiron University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, Ohio

the United States

"While the American Cancer Society estimates more than 2 million new skin cancers will be diagnosed this year, our research shows that the annual incidence in 2008 could actually have been 3.7 million," said Dr. Coldiron. "This is especially troubling as our estimate only includes Medicare patients, which means this could be even higher when young people are included in the count."

While both basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas can be easily treated if detected early, Dr. Coldiron noted that the long-established culture of tanning for the sake of vanity often includes annual spring break vacations to sunny climates that glamorize tanning. The fact is that ultraviolet (UV) light exposure (both natural and artificial) has been proven to be the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer.

"As dermatologists, we know that it is hard to change behavior, even in the face of proven scientific evidence," said Dr. Coldiron. "Attitudes about tanning are no different, as studies have shown that even though people know that overexposure to ultraviolet light can lead to skin cancer, they still tan. We need young people to realize that tanning for cosmetic reasons now will ultimately negatively affect their appearance later and even increase their risk for skin cancer."

To minimize your risk of skin cancer, the Academy recommends that everyone Be Sun Smart®:

  • Generously apply a broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seek shade between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Protect children from sun exposure
  • Use extra caution near water, snow and sand
  • Get vitamin D safely
  • Avoid tanning beds
  • Check your birthday suit on your birthday.

Schaumburg, Ill.

SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology

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