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Daily News: Disease

Skin cancer survivors still tan


USA TODAY

04-09-13

Wear your sunscreen, seek the shade, wear protective clothing and never, ever go to a tanning salon. Despite decades of repetition, many of us fail to follow that skin-saving advice -- and a new study shows that's true even for people who have had the most serious form of skin cancer.

More than a quarter of people who have had melanoma say they never use sunscreen, according to the study. Even greater numbers eschew hats and long sleeves, and 2% say they have used a tanning bed in the past year, researchers from Yale University say. They presented the data Monday at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

Cancer survivors are a bit more careful than the rest of us: 32% always wear sunscreen, while just 17% of other adults do. Overall, they also are more likely to wear hats and long sleeves and stay in the shade. But when compared with others with the same age, race and insurance coverage, they differ significantly only when it comes to sunscreen use, says researcher Anees Chagpar.

Chagpar, a cancer surgeon, says it is "shocking" that any still use indoor tanning beds.

The study of nearly 27,000 people included 171 who said they had a history of melanoma, which, like other skin cancers, is linked to sun exposure and indoor tanning. It will kill about 9,000 people in the USA this year, according to the non-profit Skin Cancer Foundation. Survivors are nine times more likely than other people to have melanoma in the future, so experts advise them to take their skin protection seriously.

Previous studies suggest such vigilance is hard to maintain, though some do find better compliance, says Mary Tripp, a behavior researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. A possible weakness of the new survey is that it relies on self-reported medical histories, which are sometimes inaccurate, she says.

But she adds that she has interviewed melanoma survivors who have let down their guard. "Survivors have told me that it is very important for them to maintain a normal outdoor lifestyle."

You can do that but "be smart about it," says Ali Hendi, a dermatologist in Chevy Chase, Md.

Copyright USA TODAY 2013

Articles featured in Life Extension Daily News are derived from a variety of news sources and are provided as a service by Life Extension. These articles, while of potential interest to readers of Life Extension Daily News, do not necessarily represent the opinions nor constitute the advice of Life Extension.

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