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Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

Surgeon General Issues 'Call To Action' Against Tanning

WASHINGTON (AP) - Stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds, the acting U.S. surgeon general warned in a report released Tuesday that cites an alarming 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

The report blames a generation of sun worshipping for the $8 billion spent to treat all forms of skin cancer each year.

Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak said state and local officials need to do more to help people cover up, such as providing more shade at parks and sporting events. Schools should encourage kids to wear hats and sunscreen and schedule outdoor activities when the sun is low in the sky. And colleges and universities should eliminate indoor tanning beds on campus much as they would prohibit tobacco use, he added.

"We need more states and institutions on board with these policies that discourage or restrict indoor tanning by our youth," Lushniak said. "Tanned skin is damaged skin."

The surgeon general's "call to action" plan is part of a broader push this year by government officials and public health advocates to raise awareness on what they say has become a major public health problem. While other cancers such as lung cancer are decreasing, skin cancer is rising rapidly. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year. And the number of Americans with skin cancer in the past three decades eclipse the number of all other cancers combined.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying each year from the mostly preventable disease.

Stacey Escalante of Las Vegas, Nevada, blames years of sunbathing with baby oil and using indoor tanning beds for her melanoma diagnosis in 2005. The mother of two was a 34-year-old television reporter training for a marathon when she found a small red growth the size of a pencil eraser on her lower back. By the time she saw a doctor, the cancer had traveled to her lymph node, requiring two surgeries that left an 8-inch scar. She then spent two years on an experimental drug.

Escalante said she realizes now that she was lucky to survive, and was foolish to think she was immune to skin cancer because her father was Hispanic and she tanned well. Now an advocate for early detection, Escalante is pushing for state legislation prohibiting minors from using indoor tanning beds.

The Melanoma Research Foundation says exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent.

"If only I had first gone to the doctor, when I first saw that spot, instead of ignoring it, I would have saved my family and myself ... the emotional, physical and financial burden of skin cancer," she said. "It was absolutely overwhelming."

Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services, said skin cancer prevention needs to become a bigger part of daily American life.

"We need to change the social norm with respect to tanning and shatter the myth that tanned skin is somehow a sign of health," Koh said.

Doctors recommend doing regular skin checks for new moles and seeing a doctor if any change in size, shape or color. Doctors also recommend applying at least 1 ounce of sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more to exposed skin and reapplying every two hours, more if swimming or sweating. Children in particular should be protected because bad sunburns in childhood are thought to greatly increase risk later in life.

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John July 30 2014 at 12:54 AM

Only 9,000 deaths a year for a lifetime of free Vitamin D and a whole lot of fun? Doctors kill hundreds-of-thousands of people a year by not doing their job and sloppy sanitation practices. Maybe we should concentrate on where the real problems are - bad doctors and lazy doctors.

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1 reply
itzvern John July 30 2014 at 3:49 PM

Don't forget the FDA just pushing meds through.

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crowland503 July 30 2014 at 12:28 AM

Whatever happened to the day when I sat at my office desk, smoked my cigarette, drank my coffee, and did not have hear the Surgeon General warn me about what not to eat, drink, or do!

If people are afraid of dying, then they should not have reincarnated on this death planet; they started dying the day they were born.

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4 replies
Donna July 30 2014 at 7:52 AM

The sun PROTECTS you from cancer...People have been roaming in the sun for billions of years. Perhaps its the sun tanning lotions and lack of vitamin D thats causing it...This article is nothing but BS...Move on..

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5 replies
supermolar July 30 2014 at 10:23 AM

well, with all the articles suggesting that tanning lotions have chemicals which may cause cancer it is not surprising to see such a spike in melanomas

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1 reply
nabwolf supermolar July 30 2014 at 2:35 PM

Sunblock does not have cancer causing chemicals. Go lay out in the sun even more!!!

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1 reply
wishladya nabwolf July 30 2014 at 6:15 PM

Sunblock deprives people of Vitamin D....perhaps they should investigate the part Vintamin D plays in preventing skin cancer than the other way around...

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Dick July 30 2014 at 10:53 AM

Only and idiot lays out in the sun baking their skin brown!!!

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1 reply
Mld12 Dick July 30 2014 at 2:05 PM

I am one of those idiots. But when I was a teen nobody KNEW what is known now. I'm in my early 60's & can assure the doubters they R in for a rude awakening

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1 reply
gramargo Mld12 July 30 2014 at 5:01 PM

When I was young, there was no sun screen except zinc oxide which the lifeguards used on their noses (and no girl wanted to do that, of course!) I tanned fairly easily, and during good weather we practically lived at the beach. In my later years I loved being in the sun beside the pool where I spent a lot of time swimming. I did end up with a few facial skin cancers which meant a few trips to a dermatologist, and now I get regular checkups for that reason. Since we knew nothing about the effects of tanning back then, I don't blame myself much......I just wish we'd had sun screens then.

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edriscollroe July 30 2014 at 10:44 AM

Melanoma is deadly and there are very few effective treatments if it isn't caught early. My sister passed away from it and left three young children. She suffered for years and years. This isn't a joke or a conspiracy.

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1 reply
mgt0331 edriscollroe July 30 2014 at 12:54 PM

That's reality, sorry.

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dwtomczyk July 30 2014 at 6:13 AM

Warning "sunbathing may be hazardous to your health". For havens sake don't ever walk on the sun.

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2 replies
m14auto dwtomczyk July 30 2014 at 10:16 AM

I assume you meant "walk IN the sun" and not on. That would be a pretty difficult task to do.

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nabwolf dwtomczyk July 30 2014 at 1:02 PM

It is hazardous to your health without protection. I spend hours outside with no consequences. It is called a hat and sunblock. If you want to get a third degree burn and have leather skin with an increased risk of melanoma, go right ahead.

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coopdabomb July 30 2014 at 6:24 AM

If I were him I would be more worried about the illegals his boss is letting into this country with God only knows what disease they have.

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2 replies
lo colon coopdabomb July 30 2014 at 1:28 PM

Those so-called 'illegals' happen to have brown skin. Give us a few more years and us hispanics will be in the majority Whitey.

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1 reply
Bob B lo colon July 30 2014 at 10:27 PM

They aren't so-called illegals - they are illegals - Mr racist. There are plenty of hispanics in my family as are whites, and we get along just fine, thank you very much. Your comment supports the fact that 'racism' is not a 'white' monopoly.

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jijjhnsn coopdabomb July 30 2014 at 4:42 PM

Meth disease is worse, and we have it all over the American heartlands

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Elizabeth July 30 2014 at 7:16 AM

Even if they don't get skin cancer, they will look like really used saddles when they get older.

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newonc July 30 2014 at 7:06 AM

All of a sudden this has become a threat and "our government" is looking to protect us with more rules. If they are that concerned, they could make more information available and stop at that point.

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