Tahlequah Daily Press


May 16, 2012

Tanning today could mean trouble later

According to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control, Many young adults ignore skin-cancer warnings.

TAHLEQUAH — Questioning, and sometimes even ignoring, authority is a hallmark of youth, and can often teach valuable life lessons.

Unfortunately, ignoring warnings about tanning and skin cancer issued by the American Cancer Society could lead to deadly consequences later in life.

According to a report issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control, about half of U.S. adults under 30 say they have had a sunburn at least once in the past year, despite the American Cancer Society’s best efforts to inform people of the dangers of tanning.

The report noted women in their 20s are frequenting indoor tanning salons, on average, twice a month.

Tahlequah resident Kate Starr learned her lesson years ago about the danger of tanning.

“I quit [tanning] when I was pregnant 17 years ago [because] it made me feel sick,” said Starr. “Now, I cover up, sit underneath [cover] or avoid the sun altogether.”

Like many others, Starr suffered a bad sunburn years ago, and has paid the price.

“I was stuck out in the sun one year and got horrendously burned, and while it was healing, I must have laid all scrunched up or something, because it wrinkled my upper chest permanently,” said Starr. “Whenever I feel bad about it, I say ‘thank you’ for it not being my face.”

Fort Gibson resident Suzy Boling said she, too, understands the dangers of tanning, but like many others, she can’t resist the allure of bronze skin.

“I know it’s not good for my skin, but I’m an indoor tanner,” said Boling. “I work so much it’s hard to get [out] in the sun. I know that’s vain, but it’s true.”

Boling tans at least once a week in an indoor bed and tries to get outside more often in the summertime.

Indoor tanning has gained popularity over the past three decades, but Marcus Plescia, director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, told the Associated Press tanning beds are driving “an epidemic in the making.”

In contrast, the number of melanoma cases has increased over the same time period. Among whites, who have the highest incidence of the disease, the rate climbed from around 10 cases per 100,000 people in 1979, to more than 24 per 100,000 in 2009.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 76,000 melanoma cases will be diagnosed in U.S. adults this year, and about 9,200 people will die from the disease.

When she has the opportunity to get outside, Boling uses sunscreen to protect herself from burning.

“If I am planning to be in the sun for an extended amount of time, I do wear sunscreen, and make sure my children do, too,” said Boling.

The CDC found that more than one-third of those surveyed said they use sunscreen when they are out in the sun, but the increasing rate of sunburns suggests many people are not putting on enough sunscreen or are not reapplying it adequately.

According to information provided by the Skin Cancer Foundation, those looking to avoid sunburns or overexposure should seek a sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. It should also contain broad-spectrum protection that shields not only UVB rays, but UVA rays.

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