A new study hot off the presses reveals that the rate of skin melanoma cases is on the rise among young women. In fact, it jumped 50% from 1973 to 2004 in young women but not in young men. So why the disparity?? Well for one the study suspects (and so do I) that tanning salons may be one reason. Vanity and the desire to be naturally golden may be offsetting the ongoing constant messages warning us to use sunblock year round, to re-apply when necessary, and to not assume using sunscreens means unconditional exposure to the sun is OK. The tanning salons claim that no real studies exist that show the relationship between indoor tanning and skin cancers, specifically melanomas. Seriously, folks, get past that. UV rays are UV rays regardless of whether they are natural sunlight or sourced indoors in a tanning salon. Another issue seems to actually be this message to use sunscreens/sunblocks which may be letting young women feel like - "I can be outdoors all day cause I've got protection on."
We need to start viewing sunblock use as a cream or lotion that MUST be applied liberally and re-applied with some frequency throughout the day - especially if you get wet, sweat or simply plan on soaking up the rays for hours. And just to be clear - in the 1970's about 5.5 cases of melanoma per year jumped to 9.4 cases per 100,000 in the 1980s and now we're up to 13.9 cases in 2004 - among young women. Something else to consider - women are living in flip flops almost year round and typically we never used to expose the skin on our feet to so much sun - nor do we tend to think of putting sunblock there all the time.
So even though I sound like a mother and stern health professional, here are the rules when it comes to sun exposure:
- UV rays are the #1 source of aging and skin cancers
- Make sure you use a sunblock that says "broad spectrum/UVA-UVB
- Do not assume clothing is a sufficient barrier
- Re-apply sunblock based on the directions on the package
- Remember that sun penetrates glass - auto glass and office building windows
- Try to avoid excessive sun exposure during the hours of 10 am - 2 pm
- Use a hat and remember to apply sunblock to earlobes, lips, feet, hands and your back
- Use sunblock year round if you live in a sunny or tropical area
- Take advantage and use wash in SPF and make your clothes more protective (especially great for kids)
Don't be reckless to satisfy vanity - spend the bucks and use self-tanners which now come in a huge variety of options.
Published On: July 22, 2008