New push to prevent skin cancer - Montgomery Alabama news.

New push to prevent skin cancer

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

There's a new push across the country to do whatever you can do to prevent skin cancer, here in Alabama, we're at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to our level of sun exposure.

Now more than ever, state health officials are urging prevention whether you're golfing, taking in your child's t-ball game or headed to the beach.

While summer usually means fun in the sun, the Acting Surgeon General has issued a call to action to prevent skin cancer. "Skin cancer rates are increasing in this country, and it's become a public health crisis," says Acting Surgeon General, Boris Lushniak M.D., M.P.H.

State health department officials say due to Alabama's humid-subtropical climate, Alabama's rate of skin cancer cases are always higher compared to the national average, which is daunting because skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the country.

"You see a mole that has popped up, that's really common, one in five Americans are going to have that…and then you have melanoma and that's more dangerous.  That's when the cancer is going to spread and it's harder to treat at that point," says Jeannie Summerlin, Public Information Specialist for the Alabama Department of Public Health.

Summerlin says women specifically are putting themselves at risk and suffering the consequences.  "Females have higher incident cases and we think that's because of tanning beds," says Summerlin, reviewing the data.

Surgeon General Boris Lushinak wants to see legislation banning young girls from tanning salons,  "We certainly support those measures to be able to protect the youth from a known carcinogen," he says.

Damage is done to the skin as soon as you see a tan, there's no such thing as a ‘healthy tan.'  A tan is a sign of damage to the skin.  You can't prevent past damage you can practice prevention.

"Sunscreen is the only FDA approved method of sun protection," says Jackson Hospital Dermatologist, Dr. Porcia Love.

Dermatologist Dr. Porcia Love sees patients from day two to 100-years-old and discusses sunscreen with all of them.

"Everyone needs to wear it regardless of your skin tone and if you wear a broad spectrum sunscreen, one that is water resistant and make sure you reapply it every two hours if you're outside then you're doing what you need to be doing to protect yourself from the sun," says Dr. Love.

Just because you don't see the damage now, doesn't mean you won't feel the effects down the road.  A sunburn doesn't look good on anybody.

63,000 people are diagnosed with Melanoma each year, of those 9,000 die.

Dr. Love suggests using a broad-spectrum, water resistant sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays, with an SPF of 30 or above.  She says to avoid the sun between the hours of 10AM and 2PM because that is when the sun is strongest.  You can also utilize sun protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats, long sleeves and sunglasses.

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