In a report filed earlier this week by the U.S. Surgeon General, it was revealed that there has been a 200 percent increase in melanoma cases in the U.S. since 1973.
So alarming was this figure, the Surgeon General has all but decided to wage war against sunbathing and the use of indoor tanning facilities. The report also claimed that some $8 billion a year is being spent annually on the treatment of all forms of skin cancer in the U.S.
Surgeon General Boris Lushniak is urging all Americans to use effective sunscreen protection when they do sun bath outdoors, calling it critical in helping to fight all forms of skin cancer. Lushniak also condemned the use of indoor tanning beds in the report and while his office can't exactly pinpoint the precise reasons for the three-fold increase in melanoma cases, he felt the time was ripe to address the situation.
"Who better than the acting surgeon general, who is himself a dermatologist, to understand how important it is to educate people to the risks of skin cancer - and how easy it is for them to take simple steps to help mitigate or minimize these risks?" explained Rye Brook dermatologist Dr. Andrew Bronin, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine. "Tanning really doesn't makes sense and should be thought of the way we now think of cigarettes."
There have been numerous studies released of late on the dangers and growing problem skin cancer has become. Researchers at JAMA Dermatology recently released this these findings:
- The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.
- In the U.S. alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases.
Additional warnings about the dangers of indoor tanning have come from the Melanoma Research Foundation as they claim exposure to tanning beds before age 30 increases a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Their researchers have also reported that melanoma is now the deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying each year from what they frequently refer as, "a mostly preventable disease."
Making skin cancer awareness and prevention a bigger part of daily life in the U.S. is apparently going to become a collaborative effort as Howard Koh, assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services is also on board with the Surgeon General's effort.
"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 added.