Gym, Tan, Laundry? How about just Gym and Laundry?

Gym, Tan, Laundry? How about just Gym and Laundry?

Wow. This video was powerful enough for me to want to change my lazy summer day routine from G.T.L. to simply G.L. (sorry Snookie!).

I know. You love to have that beautiful summer “glow.” You really don’t want to hear another lecture about the danger of the sun and tanning beds. But seriously, please watch the video and read on. As a former Floridian and worshiper of the sun, this video and the following facts scared me into swearing off my tanning oil (hello spray tan!).

According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. Although melanoma accounts for less than 5% of all skin cancers, it is responsible for the most skin cancer deaths. In the United States in 2010, there were 68,130 new cases of melanoma and 8,700 deaths caused by the cancer.

In 1930, the lifetime risk for melanoma in Americans was 1 in 1500. This number has increased drastically, especially in the past 30 years with the increased use of tanning beds. Today’s melanoma risk for Americans is 1 in 50 for whites, 1 in 1,000 for blacks, and 1 in 200 for Hispanics. Although melanoma is more likely to occur in older adults, it is one of the most common cancers in young adults under the age of 30, with cancer rates in this younger age group growing higher every year. In fact, melanoma is the most common form of cancer in adults between the ages of 25 and 29.

The major risk factor for developing melanoma is exposure to UV radiation from the sun or tanning beds. Having one or more blistering sunburns before the age of 18 has been shown to double a person’s risk of developing melanoma later in life.

A study appearing in the June 2010 issue of the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention showed that regular use of tanning beds triples the risk of developing melanoma. In the study, people who spent more than 50 hours tanning indoors had a three-fold increased risk compared to people who had never used a tanning bed. Considering the average white American’s risk for developing melanoma is already 1 in 50, this is a huge jump.

There are also several risk factors for melanoma that are out of a person’s control and much of it has to do with genetics. Whites with red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, or fair skin that freckles or burns easily are at an increased risk. Melanoma also has a predilection for occurring in families. Around 10% of people with melanoma have a close relative who has also had the disease.

What should you look for as signs of melanoma? Just remember your ABCDE’s of melanoma screening:

A for asymmetry

B for abnormal borders

C for variations in color

D for a diameter greater than 6mm (about the size of a pencil eraser)

E for evolving over time

If you notice any of these features in your suspicious moles you should definitely get them checked out by your doctor soon. Melanoma is treatable and death is preventable if it is caught early.

As a young adult you may have done your fair share of skin damage already, but it is not too late to take steps now to reduce your chances of skin cancer. Here are a few of the most common recommendations:

-Avoid sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm. This is when the UV light from the sun is the most intense.

-Love being outdoors and can’t avoid the sun? Slap on some sunscreen! And by the way, FDA guidelines for sunscreen labeling have recently changed. Look for the words “broad spectrum” on the new sunscreen labels. An SPF of 30 or more is going to help decrease your melanoma risk. Make sure to put on the sunscreen 20 to 30 minutes before you go outside to develop the protective film.

-Stop going to the tanning bed! Seriously. It’s bad. If you love to have that “glow,” try a spray tan. There are a lot of new products on the market these days that don’t leave you orange and don’t have that stereotypical “spray tan” smell. Do a little research to find what might work for you.

-Have a doctor check out all your moles at your regular check up. You can also do your own regular “self-check” by following your ABCDE’s that I mentioned above. You know your body better than anyone else.

Featured video can be found at the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund website.


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