When you hit the beach or pool, it is about hours of relaxing under the hot the sun. Those hours are stacking to up to become a major health issue in the United States. Tanning, either outdoors or indoors using tanning salons are increasing the risk of skin cancers.

Boris Lushniak, the U.S. Surgeon General is out with a warning today. Stay in the shade, wear sunscreen, and avoid the tanning booth. The fake and bake is to be avoided according to this new warning.

Talking to the Washington Post, Lushniak laid out the facts as they are seeing them. “Right now we’re seeing kind of a bad trend developing when it comes to skin cancers. Skin cancers – melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer – are increasing. It got to the point for us, right now, to be able to say, ‘We need to have this call to action.”

Skin cancers are on the rise in the United States, with nearly five million Americans treated each year for cancer. Out of the five million cases, 63,000 are serious, and 6,000 of those can be tied to indoor tanning. The leather look not only looks ridiculous, it can kill you.

Lushniak is quick to point out that people should enjoy the outdoors, but they should take steps to protect their skin. Some good news on the indoor tanning front is the usage statistics on teenagers using tanning beds. Teenagers under the age of 18 saw a decline in tanning bed usage from 2009 to 2013. In 2009, the number stood at 15.6 percent. It has declined to 12.8 percent according to a CDC report.

The FDA recently mandated that the beds and lamps be made with warning labels, which could help reduce usage even further. This is the first time the Surgeon General has focused on skin cancer, so the education push could have an even greater impact.

The Melanoma Research Foundation applauded the efforts, releasing a statement. “The report is a major step forward in the fight against the epidemic of skin cancer, but the value of this step will be measured in the follow up.”

In the end, it is all about continued awareness for the general public. The prevalence of PSAs and now the call to action should help spur efforts to reduce the number of Americans afflicted with skin cancer each year. It is entirely preventable, so long as Americans take the necessary precautions.

You can read the call to action report at the surgeon general website.


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