Surgeon General: Stop tanning, protect your skin

Surgeon General: Stop tanning, protect your skin

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS/AP) - According to the acting U.S. Surgeon General, people need to stop sunbathing and using indoor tanning beds.

In a report released Tuesday, statistics show an alarming 200 percent jump in deadly melanoma cases since 1973.

The report blames those who tan regularly for the $8 billion spent to treat all forms of skin cancer each year.

Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak said state and local officials need to do more to keep people out of the sun.

He suggested more shade at parks and sporting events.

He said schools should also encourage kids to wear hats and sunscreen.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 5 million people are treated for skin cancer each year.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer with 9,000 people dying each year from the mostly preventable disease.

Dr. Chris Jung, an ENT consultant in Cape Girardeau, said being tan is a cultural belief.

Jung said people believe they are more attractive if they have a little color.

Jung said a little sun is healthy, but like everything else, it is best to keep it in moderation.

"The only patients I ever saw that I felt had a problem we're people that would tan every day during the week and they'd go out in the sun and they'd bake in the sun all weekend long you know on the lake. Those people have are more prone to have problems," Jung said.

He said early detection is important.

Dr. Jung said to take note of any new moles or growths, and any existing growths that begin to grow or change significantly in any other way.

Laura Davis, a Dexter, Mo. native, said she was diagnosed with Melanoma nine years ago.

She said doctors told her she had a 10 percent chance of surviving 10 years with treatment.The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes.

At one point, Davis had to stop getting treatment because she was too sick.

Davis said she fought hard and now, thankfully her cancer is gone, but the eight inch scar on her leg is a constant reminder about the need to protect yourself from ultraviolet rays.

"It's really hard sometimes to let your self feel like everything is okay because you always have that thought in the back of your mind, 'what if there is something going on or what if it does come back.' It's really hard because you just don't know, so it's a battle of the mind at all times," Davis said.

Davis said she wasn't an extreme tanner, although, she did use a tanning bed or sunbathed from time to time.

Davis said it scares her to think people tan knowing the dangers that exist.

"I have friends and know people who are out in the sun all the time and tanning all the time. They are definitely increasing their chances and giving themselves a much higher risk," Davis said.

Doctors recommend doing regular skin checks for new moles and seeing a doctor if any change in size, shape or color.

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The Associated Press also contributed to this story.