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Surgeon General advises 'save your skin, stop tanning'

Tanning is becoming a major health issue in the U.S.
Tanning is becoming a major health issue in the U.S.
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

The surgeon general has a clear message to you: Stop tanning. On Tuesday, a report was released that says deadly melanoma cases have increased 200 percent since 1973.

Rear Admiral Boris Lushniak said that state officials as well as local ones need to provide more shade at sporting events and at public parks to encourage people to stay out of the sun. He added that colleges should ban tanning beds the way some campuses have banned smoking. He advises individuals of all skin colors to take the necessary precautions to still enjoy the outdoors, but to be protected.

His new push is the result of skin cancer cases actually increasing and becoming a major health issue in the country. Lushniak said, “We need more states and institutions on board with these policies that discourage or restrict indoor tanning by our youth.” The report states that UV exposure from tanning beds is completely avoidable.

And this new call to end tanning goes farther than just restricting the youth from using it, though the Melanoma Research Foundation does say that using a tanning bed before 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Howard Koh, who is an assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services says that we must change the perception of tanning and the idea that tanned skin is “somehow a sign of health.” As Lushniak says, “Tanned skin is damaged skin.”

The report also stated that $8.1 billion is spent on skin cancer treatments every year for the 5 million people who get it each year.