SAN DIEGO - Surgeon General Boris Lushniak issued a rare call to action Tuesday against tanning, calling the rise in skin cancer a major public health issue.
In his report, the Surgeon General said that almost five million people in the United States are treated for skin cancer every year, costing an estimated $8.1 billion. Nearly 9,000 people die each year in the U.S. from melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer. Melanoma is also the most common type of cancer for teens and young adults.
In an interview with the Washington Post Monday, Lushniak said melanoma cases have almost tripled in the last 30 years. He said the exact cause of the increase is unknown, but specifically called out tanning beds as contributing to the problem.
“According to research… we’re looking at about 400,000 cases of skin cancer, about 6,000 of them melanomas, that are estimated to be related to indoor tanning in the United States each year,” Lushniak told the Post. “So I have to look at this as being a major problem. We certainly know it’s something that’s become popular amongst youth. And much like the surgeon general comes out very vehemently against youth smoking, I am coming out quite vehemently against youth exposing their skin to ultraviolet radiation in tanning booths.”
The report found that as many as 90 percent of melanomas are linked to UV radiation.
Along with avoiding tanning beds, the Surgeon General is advising people to wear sunscreen and protective clothes like sunglasses and hats when going into the sun. He’s also calling on businesses to put up canopies and offer more shade.
To read the full findings click here.