Protecting Your Skin This Spring Break

Breakthrough study strengthens link between melanoma and ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

New York, NY (March 8, 2009) - According to a new study of melanoma's genetic makeup, the vast majority of mutations found in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, are caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Since mutations can increase the risk of cancer, and since UV radiation is emitted by both the sun and tanning beds, it's very important for students to be extra vigilant while on spring break.

"The incidence of melanoma continues to rise significantly, which is why it's more important than ever to take the necessary precautions when heading outdoors, especially if you're planning a beach vacation," says Perry Robins, MD, President of The Skin Cancer Foundation. "We want spring breakers to enjoy their time away from studying, but we urge them to do so safely."

In addition, intense, intermittent sun exposure - the kind people often get on a spring break beach vacation (the kind of exposure that leads to sunburn) - has been linked to basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer, and melanoma. Melanoma is now the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old, and the second most common form of cancer in adolescents and young adults ages 15-29.

THE "BASE TAN" MYTH

People who visit a tanning salon prior to spring break with the idea that a base tan can "protect" them from sunburn are only harming themselves, since tanning itself damages the skin. Studies show that first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent. And last summer, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), affiliated with the World Health Organization, published a landmark report listing the UV radiation from tanning beds among the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation for humans, alongside radon and plutonium as well as solar UV radiation.

This WHO report, along with the melanoma gene study pointing to the link between UV radiation and melanoma, and the research linking intense, intermittent sun exposure with basal cell carcinoma and melanoma together strongly reinforce the case against tanning.

In addition, tanning as a lifestyle is over. Fashion and beauty insiders agree that today, it's all about natural beauty.

"Beauty begins with healthy, glowing skin," says Bobbi Brown of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics. "No matter what your age, protect yourself daily from the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, which not only wrinkle and dull the skin, but increase your risk for skin cancer. It's the best beauty advice I have for keeping your skin looking smooth, luminous and radiant."

The Skin Cancer Foundation's Spring Break Checklist:

  • A broad-spectrum SPF 15+ sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF 15+ sunscreen
  • Wide-brimmed hat to protect the head and neck
  • UV-blocking sunglasses to protect the eyes
  • Beach sarong for the legs
  • Beach umbrella to help you seek the shade