The United States Surgeon General says stop tanning. In a message released Tuesday, Surgeon General Boris Lushniak warned that skin cancer is a major public health problem and steps must be taken to counteract the rising skin cancer rates.
A USA Today article reports that nearly five million people in the country are treated for skin cancer annually and, unlike other cancers, that rate continues to grow.
But What About Tanning Beds?
While the report does not say to avoid the outdoors altogether, it recommends precautions and warns of the dangers of indoor tanning beds. The report advises wearing sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses, as well as minimizing time in the sun.
Dr. Lawrence Green, dermatologist at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, says indoor tanning beds can raise your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent and the risk increases with each use. Tanning beds contain primarily UVA rays which pose a greater risk for skin cancer and wrinkles.
Tips from Dr. Green
“If at all possible, avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when outdoor UV rays are strongest,” says Dr. Green. “Wear clothing and hats where you can to protect your skin. Where you have no physical protection, apply a ‘broad spectrum’ SPF 30 or higher sunscreen. Reapply sunscreen every few hours, unless you are in the water or sweating a lot. In that case, reapply every 40 to 80 minutes, based on the label.”
The surgeon general’s call to action comes only two months after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they will require labels on tanning beds and lamps. The labels will warn against anyone younger than 18 using the beds.
New Sunscreen Labels
Last summer, the FDA also required manufacturers to implement new sunscreen labels to better explain the product and how to use it effectively. Changes included replacing the word “waterproof” with “water resistant” and the addition of the term “broad spectrum” on sunscreens that protect against both types of UV rays.