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Skin cancer is 'major public health problem,' surgeon general says

"Almost all of these cancers were caused by unnecessary ultraviolet radiation exposure, usually from excessive time in the sun or from the use of indoor tanning devices," said Dr. Howard K. Koh.
By Brooks Hays   |   July 29, 2014 at 1:13 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, July 29 (UPI) -- The advice normally offered by overprotective, sunscreen-wielding mothers got a boost from the U.S. Surgeon General today, as the country's lead health officials implored Americans to better protect their skin.

Boris D. Lushniak, who was appointed Surgeon General in July of 2013, recently spoke at a Washington Post forum about the growing risks of skin cancer. The talk preceded today's official "Call to Action," released by Lushniak's office.

Incidents of melanoma are rising -- tripling over the last 30 years -- while other types of cancers are falling. But even though Lushniak's call to action posited skin cancer as "a major public health problem that requires immediate action," he told Post reporters that doctors and health experts still aren't sure what's causing the increase.

"From the epidemiological surveillance perspective, we see the numbers increasing," Dr. Lushniak said. "But in terms of looking at specific [causes] of that, it's still difficult to determine."

In response to rising concerns, the surgeon general and other health experts are offering the same basic advice, only with greater urgency: stop going to tanning salons, put on a hat and wear more sunscreen.

"As a skin oncologist who worked in this field for many years, I have cared for both the young and old with skin cancers," explained Dr. Howard K. Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health. "Almost all of these cancers were caused by unnecessary ultraviolet radiation exposure, usually from excessive time in the sun or from the use of indoor tanning devices."

The so-called Call To Action also called on "business, health care, education, government and nonprofit sectors, as well as families and individuals, to do more." Dr. Lushniak encouraged health care providers and educators to do more to discouraging indoor tanning.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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