The dangers of UV rays is becoming more and more dangerous to Americans, as the United States Surgeon General’s office has released a first-ever national plan aimed to fight and prevent skin cancer. The Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer report is an effort to catch the attention of the general public in order to raise awareness about skin cancer and prevent people from developing the disease. According to the US Surgeon General, skin cancer is already a major public health problem that requires immediate action. The aim of the said plan is to lower the risk of skin cancer through education, research, and public policy.
Today, skin cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in the United States. The bad news is, it’s increasing at an alarming rate. In the report, it was stated how nearly five million individuals in the United States receive treatment for skin cancer annually. Melanoma, which is the most lethal type of skin cancer, takes about 9,000 lives every year. It is quite common among adolescents and young adults in the US to have this particular type of cancer.
United States Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh said in a news conference where the report was announced, “This is an urgent and pressing public health challenge for our country. We need to increase action as a country to promote prevention for skin cancer.”
What is Inside the Report?
The report is, at the very surface, a call to action. Looking at the layers that make up the report, you will see a carefully laid out strategy for various institutions, including:
- health care systems
- educational institutions
- nonprofit organizations
The goal is to encourage the aforementioned to work together in order to assist in the prevention of skin cancer in the country.
What are the Proposed Strategies?
The United States Surgeon General’s office gave a list of strategies that groups and organizations can adopt, such as the following:
- Increasing the public’s opportunities to protect themselves and their families. This includes areas to seek shade or shelter, whether it is in the workplace, recreational facilities, or educational areas.
- Developing methods of sending information regarding skin cancer prevention to target audiences, people who have a higher risk of getting the disease.
- Promoting skin cancer prevention guidelines, such as teaching sun protection lessons to students, sun safety training in offices, and the creating electronic records of skin cancers in EHR systems.
- Creating or enforcing state laws on indoor tanning. If the laws are lenient, then it is recommended that they are made tougher.
- Performing more research and engaging in studies that seek to understand the connection between the ultraviolet (UV) rays and cancer of the skin, as well as determining how public policies can help Americans decrease the chances of developing skin cancer.
Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH has called on everyone to take an active part in this movement against skin cancer. He says we can all do that “by protecting our skin outdoors and avoiding intentional sun exposure and indoor tanning.”
In majority of the melanoma cases, as much as 90% are known to be triggered by excessive UV ray exposure. Even the basal and squamous cell type of skin cancers point to UV ray exposure as a major risk factor. You are exposed to UV rays when you go outside during the day and when you use tanning beds and sun lamps.
As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now required the placement of warnings on sun lamps and tanning beds indicating that people under 18 years of age are not allowed to use them. It is a commendable and necessary effort, as there are currently about 1 in every 3 young, white women aged 16 to 25 that use indoor tanning beds. This is connected to the misconception that a tanned skin reflects a healthy person.
According to the Surgeon General’s office, every year 1 of every 3 young white women between the ages 16 – 25 years old engage in indoor tanning. Lushniak stated how there is a flawed perception in the US that tanned skin looks healthy, and that needs to change. He even went on to say that, “Our daughters need to know they are beautiful in their wedding gowns and prom dresses without that tan.”
How to Protect Yourself From These Dangerous UV Rays
By protecting yourself from UV rays, you are reducing your chances of developing skin cancer. You can also protect yourself from premature wrinkles, eye damage, and of course, sunburn.
Here are some tips you can follow:
Use protective clothing. A simple cover up can go a long way in protecting your skin from UV rays. When you are at the mercy of the sun, try to wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover as much skin as possible. It is also crucial to protect the eyes using sunglasses that block at the very least, as much as 99% of the UV light that tries to enter.
Use sunscreen with SPF 30 and above. Before you hit the water, put on some sunscreen and reapply at least every two hours. Do not forget to apply some even after swimming or when it is washed away by sweat.
Limit the amount of time you spend under the sun. Seek shade or go indoors if possible, most especially between 10 am and 4 pm, where the UV rays are most harmful.
Avoid using tanning equipment and sun lamps. These equipments and devices are proven to cause long-term skin damage and skin cancer.
To learn more about skin cancer and other types of cancer, visit http://www.newhopemedicalcenter.com today.