May 24, 2013
Concord, NH - Friday, May 24, 2013 is “Don’t Fry Day.” The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has designated the Friday before Memorial Day as a day to increase awareness about sun safety practices, eliminating ultraviolet (UV) radiation overexposure, and preventing skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the country, and the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years. This year alone, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 76,250 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and more than 2 million new cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers in the United States.
The majority of melanomas result from exposure to UV rays from the sun, indoor tanning beds, and sunlamps. Over the past 30 years, the number of melanoma cases has increased more than any other cancer in both New Hampshire and the U.S. In 2013, an estimated 350 New Hampshire residents will be newly diagnosed with melanoma, and about 40 will die from the disease.
A recent issue brief released by the New Hampshire Environmental Public Health Tracking Program (www.nh.gov/epht/publications/documents/melanoma-issue-brief.pdf) highlights that a growing number of young New Hampshire women have been diagnosed with melanoma. Many young women are using indoor tanning. Using a tanning bed is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin tanning before age 35 have a 75% higher risk of melanoma.
“Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to UV radiation,” said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services. “Unfortunately here in New Hampshire we have seen an increase in cases lately, particularly among young women. There are, however, prevention tips everyone can and should follow when it comes to sun exposure.”
The following tips will help to keep you and your family sun safe this summer:
- Avoid getting a sunburn
- Avoid sun tanning and tanning beds
- Seek shade (between 10:00 am to 4:00 pm when sun’s rays are strongest)
- Cover up; wear sun-protective clothing
- Wear sunglasses with 99-100% UVA/UVB protection
- Use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
There is also some important information everyone should know about sunscreens. New Food and Drug Administration regulations do not allow sunscreens to use the words “sunblock,” “waterproof,” or “sweatproof” because all sunscreens need to be reapplied every two hours, and more often if you are in and out of water or sweating. Sunscreen products that pass the broad spectrum test are allowed to be labeled as “broad spectrum.” These “broad spectrum” sunscreens protect against both UVA and UVB rays.
“Fortunately, skin cancer is highly curable if found early and it can be prevented,” continued Montero. “The best way to detect skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly and recognize changes in moles and skin growths. Talk with your healthcare professional if you have specific questions.”
For more information about Don’t Fry Day, go to www.epa.gov/sunwise/dfdpledge.html. For more information about sun safety and skin cancer prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/prevention.htm.