Monday, June 21, 2010

Melanoma rates on the rise because of high-risk behavior

Smoking = lung and other forms of cancer
High-risk sexual behavior and drug use = AIDS
Obesity + unhealthy eating habits = heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.

I do not understand why people engage in high-risk behaviors that have been proven to be deadly. Of course, there are gray areas...I know that I should be exercising (and flossing) every day, but I am hit or miss on both. For the most part, though, I take good care of my body. I want to live for a long time--after all, I had a child at age 41. I want to be around to meet my grandchildren!

As teenagers, my sister and I lay out in the backyard after rubbing ourselves with tanning oil. I never had much patience for tanning though--I'd always get bored or hot and not stick with it. I have always been pale skinned and prone to sunburn. Typically, after a "tanning" session I'd end up with more freckles than tanned skin.

For years now we have known that sunburn and lots of time in the sun, unprotected, can lead to skin cancer. I had a suspicious mole removed when I was in my late 20s, and that incident was enough to scare me for life. We slather on the sunscreen when we go out in the sun, and I wear a foundation with sunscreen in it every day.

Although it's been known for some time that use of tanning beds can lead to skin cancer, the latest statistics are stunning. Melanoma rates are rising, especially among young women, who are the most likely to use tanning beds.

A recent study found that frequent users of tanning beds are three times more likely to develop melanoma than non-users. Because of the endorphins produced through tanning, though, it's also an addictive behavior. The article notes that we need to change our society's notions of beauty--tanned skin is actually skin-damaged skin. That seems unlikely to happen any time soon...but in the meantime, if you or anyone you love is addicted to tanning, it's time to break that habit.

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