Healthier Skin in the New Year

New York, NY (December 18, 2008) - On an average day, more than one million Americans use tanning salons, which can lead to both nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers. In an effort to reduce this number, The Skin Cancer Foundation urges people to give up tanning as a New Year's resolution.

"Giving up tanning is as important as eating better, exercising more, and quitting smoking, which we know are the most popular resolutions," said Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. "UV radiation is a known carcinogen, just like cigarettes."

People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer and can be highly disfiguring. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer and is more likely to metastasize and lead to death if not caught early. And a recent study shows that people with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma, face twice the risk of developing other malignancies, such as lung cancer, colon and breast cancer.

In addition, first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent. Although melanoma accounts for about three percent of skin cancer cases, it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.

If the fear of skin cancer isn't enough of a deterrent to stop tanning, perhaps vanity will be a motivator. In addition to the obvious health risks associated with tanning beds, tanning as a lifestyle is over. Fashion and beauty insiders agree that today, it's all about natural beauty.

The cellular damage caused by ultraviolet radiation is cumulative and often irreversible. The destructive process of photoaging - premature skin aging due to UV exposure - produces profound structural changes in the skin including fine wrinkles, deep grooves, blotchiness, sagging and a leathery texture. Some of these changes may appear as early as the age of 20 in anyone who has spent a great deal of time exposing their skin to UV radiation during childhood and teen years.

For a sun-safe lifestyle this year, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends the following measures:

  • Seek the shade, especially between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M.
  • Do not burn.
  • Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths.
  • Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day.
  • Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) total of sunscreen to all exposed areas, 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
  • Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
  • Examine your skin from head-to-toe every month.
  • See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.

The first organization in the U.S committed to educating the public and medical professionals about sun safety, The Skin Cancer Foundation is still the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit www.skincancer.org.