Preventing Melanoma Requires Year-round Vigilance

We are all pretty much aware of protecting our skin during the summer season, but the Centers for Disease Control wants us to know that preventing Melanoma is a year-round job.

The Centers for Disease Control recently published a report, “Melanoma Surveillance in the United States,” online at Adobe PDF file [PDF – 15.63MB]External Web Site Icon and appears in the November 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The supplement was developed in collaboration with the American Academy of Dermatology, the largest dermatology group in the United States.

“Melanoma is a devastating disease that takes an economic toll on individuals, their families, and society in terms of premature death and lost productivity,” said Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

“New policies and prevention strategies are needed to address the leading preventable causes of melanoma, enabling people to be healthier, live longer, and continue to be productive.”

Significant findings from articles included in CDC published report:

  • A study led by Xiao-Cheng Wu, M. D., M. P. H., New Orleans School of Public Health, examined racial and ethnic variations in melanoma incidence and survival and found that melanoma rates were higher among white females aged 50 and younger, Hispanic females aged 50 and younger, and Asian Pacific Islander females aged 40 and younger, compared to their male counterparts. This study also found that Hispanics, American Indian/Alaska Natives, and Asians were diagnosed with melanoma at younger ages than whites and blacks.
  • Hannah Weir, Ph. D., CDC, examined melanoma in adolescents and young adults, and found incidence was higher among females compared to males, increased with age, and was higher in non-Hispanic whites compared to Hispanic whites, blacks, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, and Asian and Pacific Islanders.
  • In 2005, 34 percent of adults had been sunburned in the past year, and in 2004, 69 percent of adolescents experienced sunburn the previous summer according to a study led by David Buller, Ph.D., Klein Buendel, Inc., which examined the prevalence of sunburn, sun protection, and indoor tanning behaviors.
  • A study led by Todd Cartee, M.D., Emory University, surveyed a small group of dermatologists and found that many were not aware of reporting requirements, although physicians are required by law to report melanomas to central cancer registries.

The CDC recommends that people take steps to protect themselves from Melanoma by:

  • Seeking shade, especially during midday hours.
  • Wearing clothing to protect exposed skin.preventing Melanoma
  • Wearing a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wearing sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays as possible.
  • Using sunscreen with sun protective factor 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoiding indoor tanning.

For information about CDC’s efforts in skin cancer prevention, visit For more information from the American Academy of Dermatology on skin cancer, visit Web Site Icon. Podcasts about the supplement can be accessed at


Check Out Your Sunscreen

sunscreenThe Environmental Work Group, a nonprofit organization that uses the power of public information to protect public health and the environment wants to know, “Does your sunscreen actually protect your family?”

In a recent post I received, the EWG reported that only a quarter of the more than 800 beach and sports sunscreens analyzed by them for their 2012 Sunscreen Guide meet EWG standards for effectiveness and safety. They view this as progress though as it is an improvement over previous years.

A quarter of this year’s sunscreen products still contain vitamin A ingredients that accelerate the growth of skin tumors and lesions on sun-exposed skin, according to recent government studies. Also, 56 of the products EWG reviewed had no active ingredients that protect against the sun’s damaging UVA rays.

The industry continues to load store shelves with sunscreens that claim misleading, sky-high SPF ratings that may protect against sunburn-causing UVB rays but leave skin vulnerable to UVA.

Be sure, be careful, be ready for fun in the sun by clicking here for EWG’s 2012 Sunscreen Guide,



Sunlamps and Tanning Beds

 tanningThe following information from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  cautions about the use of sunlamps and tanning beds; a practice a number of people, especially teens, choose to do despite warnings about the increased risk of skin cancer.


Sunlamps and Tanning Beds

Sunlamps and tanning beds give off UV rays just like the sun. Tanning beds can be as dangerous as tanning outdoors. They may be more dangerous than the sun because they can be used at any time . They can also be more dangerous because people can expose their entire bodies at each session, which would be difficult to do outdoors.

The FDA and the National Cancer Institute recommend avoiding tanning beds.

• All tanning beds put you at higher risk of skin cancer.

• NCI reports that women who use tanning beds more than once a month are 55 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The FDA has standards for sunlamp products. All sunlamp products must have:

• a warning label

• an accurate timer

• an emergency stop control

• an exposure schedule

• protective goggles

Some people do things that make tanning beds even more dangerous, like:

• Not wearing goggles or wearing goggles that are loose or cracked.

• Staying in the bed for the maximum time that is listed on the label.

• Staying in the bed longer than recommended for your skin type. Check the label for exposure times.

• Using medicines or cosmetics that make you more sensitive to UV rays. Check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

What are “sunless” tanning products?

• Sunless tanning products are cosmetics that make the skin look tanned.

• Most of these products do not have sunscreen, so you still need to use sunscreen.

• If you go to a spray-on sunless tanning booth, ask for protection to keep from breathing in the spray. Keep it out of your mouth, eyes, and lips.

• FDA has not approved any tanning pills. These pills can have bad side effects such as nausea, cramping, diarrhea, severe itching, and welts. Tanning pills also may cause yellow patches inside your eyes and affect your eyesight.

• Some lotions and pills claim to make you tan faster. There is no proof that these work. “Tanning accelerators” are not approved by the FDA.

Source: FDA Office of Women’s Health




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