Surgeon General taking on skin cancer

By: Brittany Paris

Stop tanning. That’s what the Surgeon General recommends. Save your skin, save your life.

And dermatologists in Lincoln are applauding his efforts to stop this deadly problem.

“There’s three times now more melanomas being diagnosed than there were 30 years ago. And even more concerning, particularly in young women, that number’s gone up eight times,” Dr. Geoff Basler, Dermatologist, said.

Basler, of Complete Family Dermatology, says in the dozens of women he’s treated for melanoma that are under the age of 30, virtually all of them have used a tanning bed.

But the Surgeon General is taking on all forms of tanning, indoor and outdoor.

“There’s no such thing as a good tan. Tanned skin is damaged skin. It’s a sign of excessive ultraviolet exposure,” Boris Lushniak, Acting U.S. Surgeon General, said.

In the summer, especially before vacations, people like to get base tans, meaning they tan so they don’t burn when they’re out in the sun.

“Going and getting a base tan is about like smoking a pack of cigarettes before you go to a bar and thinking that it’s going to protect you somehow. It’s only going to make things worse,” Basler said.

He says skin cancer can strike at any age and sun exposure is cumulative.

Basler says once the cancer starts to spread, it’s difficult to treat.

We not know childhood sun exposure significantly increases the risk of skin cancer later in life. Basler says teaching your kids sun safety is as important as teaching them to brush their teeth.

But the warning isn’t just for the fair skin. People who tan well can get skin cancer, too. The key is prevention and early detection.

Recently, the state’s taken a stand, passing a bill that makes it illegal for kids under 16 to tan without a parent’s consent.

Basler says this is a major public health issue. And others have compared the Surgeon General’s push against skin cancer to the push against smoking decades ago.