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Sun Protection Group Highlights 2009's Top Skin-saving Developments

Posted: December 30, 2009

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1. Tanning bed ban. Members of the Howard County (Maryland) Board of Health banned the use of tanning beds by anyone under 18. It is the first law in the nation that prohibits minors from using tanning beds. Peter Beilenson, the Howard County health officer, says, "People under the age of 35 who are exposed to indoor tanning have a 75% increased risk of skin cancer and the younger you are exposed to indoor tanning the greater your risk of potentially fatal melanoma."

2. The road to healthy skin tour. During 2009, the Skin Cancer Foundation organized dermatologists from around the country to provide free skin cancer screenings. The Road to Healthy Skin Tour traveled from Massachusetts to California and Washington to Florida. Dermatologists participating in the 2009 tour identified 1,201 skin cancers, including 77 suspected melanomas.

3. AAD free skin cancer screenings. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) celebrated its 25th year of offering free skin cancer screenings with several new initiatives in 2009: offering an e-card to notify others about the screenings; an alert to notify you when a screening is being held within 50 miles of your community; and a new video describing what to expect in a skin cancer exam. Since 1985, member dermatologists have conducted 1.9 million free skin cancer screenings and detected 188,000 suspicious lesions, including more than 21,500 suspected melanomas.

4. Sun sounds. Beach music might not appear to have much to do with preventing skin cancer. However, Australians, who have waged an aggressive war on skin cancer in their country, recently introduced "Sun Sounds." Loud speakers, commonly used on Australian beaches to warn of sharks, now play five second jiggles throughout the day to warn bathers to cover up. Twenty different sun sounds jingles were produced for the initiative.

5. New zinc oxide sun protection fabric. For years, the emphasis on sun protection has been sunscreen. Now, health professionals stress that sun protection clothing is the first line of defense against dangerous UV rays. They recommend wearing sun protection clothing as well as applying full-spectrum sunscreen to exposed areas. Manufacturers are meeting the challenge. One Minneapolis-based sun protection clothing manufacture, introduced a new fabric this year that incorporates the well-known sun protection properties of zinc oxide into lightweight and breathable fabrics.