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New Findings: Indoor Tanning is to Skin Cancer as Smoking is to Lung Cancer

If you believe that indoor tanning isn’t dangerous, this finding from a study recently released by JAMA Dermatology might change that.

In likely the first summary of international indoor tanning exposure, researchers determined that the number of diagnosed skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

Can It Be True?   

Taken at face value, the study tells us what smoking is to lung cancer, indoor tanning is to skin cancer. And in fact JAMA Dermatology provides documented evidence gathered in the US, Australia and Northern and Western Europe. Researchers reported:

“Overall, we estimate 419,039 cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma (NMSC) and 10,888 cases of melanoma each year attributable to indoor tanning. To put this in perspective, approximately 362,941 cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking each year in these regions.”

However, the same study notes that the general risk for lung cancer is much higher (it assumes 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are attributable to smoking) than for skin cancer (up to 22 percent among indoor tanners). And the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on February 4 that lung, breast and colon cancers are still the most diagnosed worldwide.

But the new figures suggest an even more alarming trend. While smoking is declining worldwide, indoor tanning may actually be increasing. And the Skin Cancer Foundation cites a study by the American Cancer Society which says that each year in the US there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Work To Be Done

Several US states have banned or restricted indoor tanning, and many others are considering it. But, while the WHO considers indoor tanning a group 1 carcinogen, tanning beds in the US are still regulated by the FDA as Class 1 medical devices (the same as bandages and tongue depressors).

Perhaps the best context for the work that still needs to be done comes from the JAMA Dermatology researchers, who said: “Despite the mounting evidence of harms of indoor tanning, data on the scope of this problem, with which to guide public health efforts are missing.”

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Ocular Melanoma: Skin Cancer in Your Eyes?

Yes, melanoma – known as the most serious type of skin cancer – can occur in your eyes! In fact, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation, ocular melanoma (also known as OM) is the second most common form of melanoma, with about 2,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. About half of OM cases are eventually fatal as the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

And as with all melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers, prevention starts with education. A terrific guideline: The greater your risk of developing skin cancer through exposure to UVA and UVB rays, the greater your risk of developing OM.

Why the Eye?

OM is similar to skin melanoma, but there are significant differences. Many people have heard of the natural pigment melanin, which gives our skin its particular color, and we might also know that melanoma develops from the cells which produce melanin. But these cells are not just in our skin. We carry them in our intestinal lining, and in our hair; they also give color to our eyes.

Who is at Risk?

Researchers at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center say that people most at risk for OM  generally:

  • Have fair skin, and tend to sunburn easily.
  • Have light-colored eyes.
  • Are of European descent, especially northern Europe.
  • Have occupations such as welding, where proper eye protection is vital.

Also, age is a factor: people 50 and above have a much greater risk of developing OM.

What Can You Do?

It’s important to realize that anyone can develop ocular melanoma. Our eyes are constantly exposed to the sun whenever we are outside, whether we are active on the tennis court or running errands in the car. We should pay attention to eye care right along with skin protection. Here are some tips:

– Invest in a good pair of sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks 99-100 percent UVB and UVA rays. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN offers tips on selecting sunglasses.

– Wear a hat with at least a 3-inch brim (minimum recommendation of the American Academy of Dermatology).

– Start your children early on the path of UV protection. Get them into the habit of wearing sunglasses and hats.

Take it from melanoma survivor Timna: “EVERYONE needs to do everything they CAN do to protect their eyes”.

Check out our selection of sun protective sun hats and sunglasses.  All Coolibar sun hats are UPF 50+, and all sunglasses carried by Coolibar block 100% UVA/UVB rays.

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Excitement for Spring: Check Out the Fashion Trends Behind Coolibar’s 2014 Spring Line!

Coolibar Spring fashion 2014

 

We are knee deep in snow here in Minnesota, and like so many other places this year we eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring!  Along with the warmer temperatures, we can’t wait to see all of you showing off the latest spring and summer fashions for 2014.

Around the world, eye-popping new trends have been making their way down the runway and into Coolibar’s spring collection. Coolibar follows international fashion trends for spring 2014.

Our design director Olga Mashkova has been planning and implementing this year’s great looks.  The new 2014 UPF 50+ spring line will perk up your look – for men, women and kids – with fun pops of pattern and color. We are especially excited about new geometric and ikat prints, along with beautiful pallets of blue.

At Coolibar, we put fashion into action by integrating the most up to date looks with the skin protection required to keep you and your family safe in the sun. Check out the fresh new lineup for spring, available now at Coolibar!

 

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The Sun, Heat and Skin Cancer: Is Tennis Too Dangerous?

On days like this past Thursday in Melbourne, the answer is yes. That day, all matches in the Australian Open – the opening grand slam event in pro tennis each year – were suspended because of heat that climbed to 110 degrees F (40+ C).

That’s not sustainable for players or fans; if you happen to be either one, you know that tennis requires you to be out in the sun for hours at a time. But when it isn’t so hot, a larger and less obvious danger remains: how are people protecting themselves from UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin cancer?

In Australia – which as a nation has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – this isn’t an unusual question. At this year’s Australian Open, officials have passed out sunscreen to fans and stocked it in the locker rooms. And well-known professional tennis players like John Newcombe of Australia and Felix Mantilla of Spain have had very public battles with skin cancer after their playing days were over.

Yet many tennis pros today say they don’t like to wear sunscreen. They cite the same reasons you might as a casual player (or a fan):  sunscreen is too slippery; it can feel like it’s blocking the body’s natural cooling process; it gets in your eyes.

Other players, like Australian former world No. 1 player Patrick Rafter (who played a doubles match in this year’s tournament), make it clear that sunscreen is a must. But what else can be done?

Patrick Rafter and Novak Djokovic at Australian Open
Tennis champion Novak Djokovic posted this on Twitter from the Australian Open.

A great option that can no longer be overlooked is wearable sun protection.

In 2000, former tennis pro Chris Evert explained to a tennis magazine that her eyes had been permanently damaged by UV rays. Now, UV protective sunglasses and even contact lenses are available for players and fans.

But there’s much more available than that. In the same article, Evert mentioned that players had only recently begun wearing hats while playing. Now there’s a whole range of UPF 50+ sun protective hats in a variety of styles, with features like wide brims, breathable and quick-drying fabrics and removable neck drapes.

In fact, tennis players can now outfit themselves with entire ensembles – complete sun protection from head to foot. This is partly because of increased awareness about the dangers  of UVA and UVB rays, and partly because fashion has finally caught up with function.

Is tennis too dangerous? Even if you’re not playing in a prestigious professional tournament watched the world over, the answer should always be a resounding “no.”

Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!

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