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Tuesday | 1.16.2018
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'Take a Stand, Don't Tan'

Melanoma is the second-leading cause of cancer death for people age 15 to 30, and the rate is increasing. Now, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is reaching out to teens about tanning and its link to the deadliest type of skin cancer.

Launched as part of Melanoma Awareness Month, the “Take a Stand, Don’t Tan!” campaign provides teens with the facts about the health risks associated with tanning. The campaign uses Facebook, YouTube and other online tools, including the “Take a Stand, Don’t Tan!” pledge.

“This isn’t a cancer that waits for people to grow old before it strikes, and teens need to understand the health risks before they get in a tanning bed,” says Tim Turnham, executive director of the MRF. “Melanoma is the second-most-common type of cancer in teens and young adults and the leading cause of cancer death in women 25 to 30 years old.“

The campaign’s Web site, http://www.melanoma.org/take-a-stand, explains why there is no such thing as a “safe” or “healthy” tan and encourages teens to sign an online pledge to not tan. It also features “Confessions of an Ex-Tanner,” a series of interviews with women who have a history of both tanning and melanoma. Links to the MRF’s Facebook page and YouTube channel allow teens to take online polls, view the true impact of skin cancer in the “scar gallery” and participate in an interactive video about the pressure on teens to tan.

Melanoma is the fastest-growing cancer in the U.S. and worldwide. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, such as sunlight or indoor tanning beds, is one of the major risk factors for most melanomas.

Recent research has shown that using tanning beds before age 35 increases the risk of developing melanoma by 75%, and occasionally using tanning beds can triple the chances. Last year, 69,000 Americans were diagnosed with the disease, resulting in one death every hour.

The importance of addressing sun safety in the youth population was recently further reinforced by a new partnership between the MRF and Cosmopolitan magazine to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research.
Cosmo readers will receive an awareness bracelet with a $10 donation to the MRF. The fund-raising drive is part the magazine’s ongoing “Practice Safe Sun” campaign to combat the high rate of skin cancer among young women.

On the regulatory level, in March, the Food and Drug Administration's Medical Devices Advisory Committee recommended banning the use of tanning beds entirely for those under the age of 18 or at least requiring parental consent. The committee also recommended that the FDA reclassify tanning beds and mandate stronger warning labels.

“I started visiting indoor tanning salons in the year leading up to my wedding because I was under a lot of stress, and I found it really relaxing,” says Kristi Setzer, a 27-year old woman who was diagnosed with melanoma in 2008. “I would go to the tanning salon every other day because it made me feel prettier and thinner when I had some color. I enjoyed it so much I continued, despite the warnings from my family, as my uncle had succumbed to melanoma four years prior. I was incredibly lucky, because my melanoma was found early.

"Young women need to realize that it really can happen to you.”

More information is available at http://www.melanoma.org, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Melanoma.Research.Foundation, or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/CureMelanoma.


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