WASHINGTON (AP) — The acting U.S. surgeon general is asking Americans to give up their love of sunbathing and indoor tanning beds, citing an alarming 200 percent jump in the number of deadly melanoma cases diagnosed since 1973.
Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak says in a new report that nearly 5 million people in the U.S. are treated for all forms of skin cancer each year at a cost of $8 billion. He says that state and local officials should do more to help people cover up, such as providing more shade at parks, and that colleges should discourage indoor tanning beds on their campuses, much as they would tobacco use.
Lushniak says skin cancer rates won’t change until American attitudes do. Tanned skin, he warns, is damaged skin.
Below are sun-screening tips from Center of Disease Control:
Put on sunscreen before you go outside, even on slightly cloudy or cool days. Don’t forget to put a thick layer on all parts of exposed skin. Get help for hard-to-reach places like your back. And remember, sunscreen works best when combined with other options to prevent UV damage.
How sunscreen works. Most sun protection products work by absorbing, reflecting, or scattering sunlight. They contain chemicals that interact with the skin to protect it from UV rays. All products do not have the same ingredients; if your skin reacts badly to one product, try another one or call a doctor.
SPF. Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.
Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours and after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.
Expiration date. Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.
Cosmetics. Some makeup and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.
A recent PIX11 report reveals the dangers of indoor tanning and the severity of damage it could inflict on a person’s skin.
For more resources on skin safety, visit the Surgeon General’s Call to Action website.