indoor tanning

The Color Of Skin Cancer

May 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm , by

Look out, pink: Here comes orange. We saw a lot of this hot color on Melanoma Monday this week. It’s part of the American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOT orange campaign to raise awareness and promote early detection of skin cancer. “Unlike other types of cancer, skin cancer provides visual warning signs that can be detected on the surface of the skin in the form of a spot that changes, itches or bleeds,” says AAD president Dirk M. Elston, M.D. “When caught early, skin cancer has a 98 percent cure rate, which is why it is so important for people to know the warning signs and see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis.”

The AAD even sent out packages of orange m&ms imprinted with their logo and the #SPOT orange hashtag. That led some melanoma advocates to cry foul, saying the disease that kills one person every hour is not sweet or fun and should be taken more seriously. Some also say that black is the color of melanoma awareness and feel offended by orange, the color of “fake tans.” We understand how serious and deadly melanoma can be but we also say, whatever works!

Something needs to be done—and now. Melanoma is on the rise among young people, especially young women who have done indoor tanning. In fact, the FDA is considering really cracking down on this dangerous habit. Meanwhile, it’s proven to be carcinogenic, so steer clear.

There are lots of helpful tools and links on the AAD site to motivate you. My favorite is this downloadable Body Mole Map, which can help you keep track of spots that may be changing—and includes photos of what to look for. I’m using mine! You still have to see a dermatologist regularly, though, for a professional skin check. (See my video on what to expect here.)

The Skin Cancer Foundation has great resources, too. A must-read: “Even One Pre-Prom Tan Can Be Dangerous,” in which a young melanoma survivor (she was diagnosed at only 23) shares her regrets.

Another must-read (okay, I wrote it) is our story in the June issue of the Journal: “Freckle, Mole or Skin Cancer?” In it, a woman who was seven months pregnant saw a small black spot on her leg and thought it was a tick. It wasn’t.

Our story also has great advice on what you need to know about getting a biopsy, and how to trust your instincts about any suspicious spot on your body. Plus the latest on sunscreens, which are getting better all the time. Remember: You have the power to prevent skin cancer.

But if you are diagnosed, here’s a great blog by Lisa Collier Cool, a member of our new blogger team, on the latest medical breakthroughs to treat it.

Addendum: Read the AAD’s response to the color controversy on its Facebook page.

 


Indoor Tanning is Toxic, Too

May 28, 2010 at 11:08 am , by

Not convinced that indoor tanning is dangerous? Better take a look at the findings of this brand-new, large-scale study in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Researchers from the University of Minnesota found that people who’ve tanned indoors are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma (the most deadly form of skin cancer) than those who’ve stayed away from tanning beds. Their findings add to mounting evidence that there’s nothing pretty about indoor tanning.

Want to learn more about skin cancer, tanning and its risks? Check out the first article in our three-part series on skin cancer.

Previous research demonstrated a weak link between tanning beds and melanoma. But this study establishes a much firmer association, supporting what many dermatologists have long suspected: Indoor tanning, regardless of what type of device used, increases your risk for melanoma. In fact, using high-speed/high-intensity devices doubles your risk; high-pressure devices can quadruple it. Moreover, the more you use tanning beds (whether measured in hours, sessions or years), the greater your risk. The FDA is so concerned, it’s considering a ban on their use among teens.

So are tanning beds worse than sun exposure? It’s unclear, but you can burn from both. “The real take-home message is that UV radiation, regardless of its source, is harmful,” says lead researcher DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D.

Not convinced that pale is beautiful? Try our favorite sun-less tanners.

Photo courtesy Evil Erin