WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 29, 2014) —
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) joined the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Surgeon General and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today at the National Press Club to issue a national call-to-action on skin cancer prevention. The national call to action identifies opportunities for the government, public and private organizations, health care providers and individuals to raise awareness of skin-protection practices.
“The American Academy of Dermatology Association is extremely pleased that the HHS’ Surgeon General’s office and CDC recognize that skin cancer prevention is an important national health issue,” said Brett M. Coldiron, MD, FAAD, president of the AADA. “The American public needs to be aware that the dangers of ultraviolet radiation exposure are real. Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays – from the sun and indoor tanning devices – is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, including melanoma.”
In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/HHS requested information from the AADA and other stakeholder groups on public strategies and barriers to prevent skin cancer through reduction of UV exposure. The AADA recommended that the CDC implement a multi-pronged campaign — including federal, state, and local governments as well as key stakeholders — to educate the public on tanning and skin cancer and institute programs that teach safe skin behaviors at an early age.
The AADA has also successfully advocated for legislation that prohibits minors under the age of 18 from indoor tanning in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington.
The call to action comes on the heels of the FDA’s final order calling for stricter regulations of indoor tanning devices, and a strong recommendation against the use of tanning beds by minors under the age of 18. Specifically, the HHS/CDC call to action highlights the increasing concerns about the use of indoor tanning devices, recommending:
- Continued research on indoor tanning trends and behaviors
- The development of more messaging alerting the public about the dangers associated with indoor tanning
- Increase enforcement of existing regulations on indoor tanning
- Improved warning labels on indoor tanning devices
“Tanned skin is damaged skin, and we need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health,” said Acting Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak, MD, MPH. “When people tan or get sunburned, they increase their risk of getting skin cancer later in life.”
Additionally, the call to action recommends everyday preventive steps, such as:
- Wearing protective gear (such as a hat, sunglasses, and other protective clothing)
- Seeking shade
- Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher to protect exposed skin, especially during midday hours.
“The AADA is particularly pleased that the HHS and the Office of the Surgeon General have highlighted methods for the public to prevent skin cancer in this white paper, that include seeking shade, wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen, and avoiding dangerous indoor tanning devices,” said Dr. Coldiron. “The Academy looks forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders to implement these recommendations.”
More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed annually. It is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
The American Academy of Dermatology is dedicated to increasing the public’s understanding of skin cancer and motivating people to change their behavior to prevent and detect skin cancer. Through the Academy’s SPOT Skin Cancer™ initiative, dermatologists have conducted more than 2.4 million free SPOT me™ skin cancer screenings and detected more than 238,000 suspicious lesions, including more than 26,500 suspected melanomas since 1985. Since 2000, the Academy has funded 307 shade structures for non-profit organizations across the country, shading more than 580,288 individuals daily.
Additionally, the Academy develops and distributes public service advertising about skin cancer every year. The Academy’s 2012-2014 PSA campaign, which targeted older men with a skin cancer detection message and younger women with a ‘dangers of tanning’ message, received nearly $27 million in free advertising placements from TV, cable and radio stations across the U.S.
Visit the SPOT Skin Cancer™ website — www.SpotSkinCancer.org — to learn how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map for tracking changes on your skin, and find free SPOT me™ skin cancer screenings in your area. You can also download free materials to educate others in your community, and those affected by skin cancer can share their story via the website.