Surgeon General issues skin cancer warning
POSTED: Thursday, July 31, 2014 - 8:29am
UPDATED: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 - 12:11pm
EL PASO (KTSM) — Five million people are treated for skin cancer every year, more than any other cancers combined.
For the first time, the surgeon general has proposed a call to action to prevent skin cancer, calling it a major public health problem.
Dave Skourup, a west El Paso resident, said he takes precautions during the summer.
"I'm white as a fish's belly. I usually try to stay inside during the peak hours, I use sunscreen...l'll usually wear long sleeves and trousers," he said.
Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer kills over 9,000 people a year. Cases of it have increased 200 percent in the past 60 years.
"An acquaintance of mine has it. He was a football coach. He was out in the sun a lot, and it was just a natural occurrence. I mean, he's had it and dealt with it and continues to deal with it," Skourup said.
It's costing Americans an average of $8.1 billion a year.
The surgeon general says a large part of skin cancer has to do with the social norm surrounding tanning.
"Healthy is translated into nice tan looking skin. Tan skin is seen as more beautiful," said Michelle Fowler, a west El Paso resident.
Not only is outdoor tanning an issue, indoor tanning beds, popular among those 16 to 25 years old, is estimated to cause several hundred thousand cases of skin cancer a year, according to the report..
Experts say prevention is simple.
Wear light clothing that covers the skin, and wear sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply every two hours.
"[We should] with children as they're young. Applying that sunscreen and not encouraging tanning in any form really," Fowler said.
The surgeon general's report can be found here.