OUR OPINION: Season of sun requires cautions about skin cancer

By NEMS Daily Journal

The Memorial Day holiday weekend, followed in many cases by a week of family vacation, often involves intentional extra hours of sun exposure. Voices in the medical and recreation sectors have joined in a timely caution about skin-cancer risks.
Last Friday was designated “Don’t Fry Day” – a cautionary and informational promotion about how unprotected exposure to the sun’s ultra-violet rays can cause skin cancer, including the sometimes deadly form called melanoma.
The sunny skies like Northeast Mississippi has experienced most of the past week and many days of this year’s spring means risks will increase, especially without intentional precautions.
The skin-cancer prevention initiative also includes urgings for people who work for a living in direct sun – farmers, construction workers, sports and organized recreation leaders, and all kinds of maintenance people whose jobs are outdoors.
EPA joined the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Park Service (NPS) in stressing the dangers of skin cancer and providing simple steps Americans can take to protect themselves. The National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention designated the Friday before Memorial Day “Don’t Fry Day” as a way to highlight sun safety.
The risks increase for all people spending more time in the sun.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. and the most common cancer among 20 to 30 year-olds. It’s estimated that one American dies every hour from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The Skin Cancer Foundation reported for 2011:
* An estimated 123,590 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US – 53,360 noninvasive (in situ) and 70,230 invasive, with nearly 8,790 resulting in death.
* Melanoma accounts for less than 5 percent of skin cancer cases, but it causes more than 75 percent of skin cancer deaths.
To help protect people’s health, EPA’s SunWise program, one of the nation’s largest environmental and health education programs, encourages kids and their caregivers to practice safe sun habits and raises awareness about UV sunlight that penetrates the Earth’s ozone layer. The Website, with daily information on the UV Index, is www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvindex.html or downloading EPA’s app, epa.gov/enviro/mobile.
The general rules are familiar to most people: apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing; wear a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses also help prevent sun damage. Heeding the cautions can save many lives in preventing skin cancers.
More than two million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in 2012.