Monday, September 08, 2008

Warning: Sun Safety Is More Than Sunscreen

24-7 - The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), the largest private, national organization devoted to melanoma in the United States, issued the following statement in response to the media attention regarding the Environmental Working Group's recent report on sunscreen effectiveness:

"It is important that we remain vigilant in making safe decisions when it comes to the sun. Sadly, approximately 65 percent of melanomas—the most serious form of skin cancer and one of the fastest growing cancers in the U.S.—are attributed to ultraviolet exposure," said Dr. Allan Halpern, member of the MRF's Scientific Advisory Committee and Chief of the Dermatology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Too many people mistakenly view wearing sunscreen as a blank check for spending unlimited time in the sun. Sunscreen is just one component of sun safety."

The MRF recommends the following sun safety practices for all skin types to help prevent skin cancer:

• Generously apply sunscreen to all exposed skin—even on cloudy days—using a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 that provides broad-spectrum protection from both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays.
• Re-apply sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
• Wear protective clothing, such as a long-sleeved shirt, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, when possible.
• Seek shade when appropriate, remembering that the sun's rays are the strongest between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
• Use extra caution near water, snow and sand, as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of sunburn.
• Do not burn. Severe sunburns, especially during childhood, increase your risk of developing melanoma and other skin cancer.
• Avoid intentional tanning and indoor tanning beds. Current research indicates there is no way to get a tan through ultraviolet radiation without increasing the risk for skin cancer.
• Consider using a sunless self-tanning product if you want to look like you've been in the sun, but continue to use sunscreen.
• Get vitamin D safely through a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements. Don't seek the sun.

Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide and can strike people of all ages, all races and both sexes. In fact, with a one in 50 lifetime risk of developing melanoma, more than 62,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with invasive melanoma this year, resulting in an estimated 8,400 deaths.

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