Skin Cancer Remains the Most Common Cancer in US, Americans Urged to Take Action
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), joined by the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is recognizing the Friday before Memorial Day as “Don’t Fry Day”, to encourage Americans to take a few simple steps to protect their health and prevent skin cancer throughout the summer.
“While we’re making progress toward restoring the Earth’s ozone layer, Americans need to take steps now for extra protection from harmful UV rays and skin cancer,” said Janet McCabe, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “Americans can stay safe under the sun and enjoy the outdoors by taking simple steps such as using sunscreen and wearing UV-blocking sunglasses.”
“If current trends continue, one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetime, and many of these skin cancers could be prevented by reducing UV exposure from the sun and indoor tanning devices,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “Of particular concern is the increase we are seeing in rates of melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer. In the United States, melanoma is one of the most common cancers among people ages 15 to 29 years.”
“Spending time in the sun increases the risk of skin cancer. Everyone can get sunburned and suffer harmful effects of exposure to UV radiation from time spent outdoors,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Consumers can protect themselves by choosing a sunscreen that is right for them, wearing protective clothing and limiting time in the sun.”
To make it easier for people to choose products that effectively reduce the health risks of UV overexposure, the FDA has issued new labeling rules for sunscreen products. These include:
- Sunscreens proven to protect against both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can be labeled “Broad Spectrum.” Both UVB and UVA radiation contribute to the sun’s damaging effects.
- Sunscreen products that meet the criteria for being called “Broad Spectrum” and have a Sunscreen Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher may state that they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging when used as directed with other sun protection measures.
- Any product that is not “Broad Spectrum,” or has an SPF below 15, must have a warning stating that the product has not been shown to help prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.
- New water resistance claims on the front label must indicate whether the sunscreen remains effective for 40 minutes or 80 minutes while swimming or sweating.
In addition to using Broad Spectrum sunscreen, here are some tips to help enjoy the outdoors safely this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer:
- Seek shade, not sun: Seek the shade when the sun’s rays are strongest; avoid sunburns, intentional tanning, and use of tanning beds; use extra caution near reflective surfaces like water and sand.
- Wear protective clothing: Wear sun-protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses.
Check the UV Index: EPA and the National Weather Service offer the UV Index--an hourly forecast of UV radiation that allows Americans to plan outdoor activities in ways that prevent overexposure to the sun. Download EPA's free UV Index app at www.epa.gov/enviro/mobile/.
Nations across the globe have made steady progress toward restoring the Earth’s protective ozone layer through the groundbreaking environmental treaty called the Montreal Protocol. Signed by 197 countries, including the U.S. government, the Protocol is successfully working to phase out ozone-depleting substances. Scientists predict that the ozone layer will recover later this century.
According to the CDC, the states with the highest melanoma death rates include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia. Americans are encouraged to learn more about skin cancer in their states at www2.epa.gov/sunwise/skin-cancer-facts-your-state.
More on EPA sun safety tips: http://www2.epa.gov/sunwise
More on the Montreal Protocol: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/intpol/
More on FDA sunscreen labeling rules: http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm258416.htm
More on CDC skin cancer prevention efforts: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/ and cancer statistics: http://wonder.cdc.gov/cancer.html.
More on the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention: http://www.skincancerprevention.org/
Source: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),