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Surgeon General Warns People Against Tanning

Update Date: Jul 29, 2014 09:13 AM EDT

Even though lying out in the sunlight for hours might seem like a relaxing and fun day, the United States Acting General has released a report warning people about the dangers of indoor and outdoor tanning. The General, Boris Lushniak, released the warning this Tuesday, stating that skin cancer is a "major public health problem." He recommends people to wear sunscreen and a hat or stay in the shade and avoid indoor tanning.

"Right now we're seeing kind of a bad trend developing when it comes to skin cancers. Skin cancers - melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer - are increasing. It got to the point for us, right now, to be able to say, 'We need to have this call to action,'" Lushniak said in an interview with the Washington Post. "I've got to, as acting surgeon general, call out the facts."

According to the new report, almost five million people Americans get treated every year for skin cancer. Around 63,000 cases are considered serious and about 6,000 of them can be directly tied to indoor tanning. Overall, these cases, which are highly preventable, totaled $8.1 billion.

Lushniak stated that it is time for more states to jump on the wagon of banning indoor tanning for minors. More states must also start enforcing laws that would discourage people from indoor tanning by educating them about the risks involved. For outdoor tanning, Lushniak stressed the importance of using and remembering to reapply sunscreen. People should also minimize their sun exposure by using a hat or seeking out shade.

"Enjoy the great outdoors," Lushniak stated according to USA Today. "But take steps to protect your skin."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the percentage of teenagers younger than 18 who used tanning booths fell from 15.6 percent in 2009 to 12.8 percent in 2013. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently mandated tanning beds and lamps to be made with warning labels, which could help reduce these rates. In addition to the agency's policy, the general's call to action, which is the first time he has publicly focused on skin cancer, could lower these rates even more.

"[The report] is a major step forward in the fight against the epidemic of skin cancer, but the value of this step will be measured in the follow up," stated Tim Turnham, executive director of the Melanoma Research Foundation.

The general's call to action report can be accessed here.

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