Skin cancer warning: rates on the rise especially among young ad - CBS46 News

Skin cancer warning: rates on the rise especially among young adults

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

A warning before the unofficial start to summer from the American Cancer Society: use your sunscreen or stay out of the sun completely. Skin cancer rates are on the rise.

According to the statistics, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime and every 54 minutes one American dies. More people now develop skin cancer from tanning than develop lung cancer from smoking.

The Friday kicking off Memorial Day weekend has become known as "Don’t Fry Day,” a time to remind people of the unseen danger of the summer sun. Gordon Foster and his vizsla Jolie spend a lot of time in the sun at Piedmont Park.

“I put sunscreen on. I put SPF 30 on my face,” shared Foster. Even with sunscreen Foster maintains a deep golden tan.

“I grew up in Florida so I got addicted to the sun very young,” Foster acknowledged.

“I am actually surprised about the young patients that we see,” Dr. Melinda Yushak, an Assistant Professor at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute told CBS46.

Melanoma is now the most common cancer in young adults and Melanoma rates have been rising steadily for three decades.

“We think that this is related to an increase in sun exposure,” Yushak contended.

While 90% of skin damage is caused by the sun, fewer than 10% of Americans wear sunscreen on a daily basis.

“The whole point of ‘Don’t Fry Day’ is that a lot of skin cancers can be prevented,” Yushak stated.

Doctors recommend using a SPF 30 or higher anytime you're in the sun and reapplying every two hours. It's especially important for kids.

“It is very very important… to protect your children from sun exposure,” Yushak argued. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 80% of lifetime UV exposure occurs before a child turns 18. More than a dozen states now ban minors from using tanning beds. 

“Tanning beds are very dangerous… people who use them have an increased rate of skin cancers including melanoma,” Yushak asserted.

Your doctor should check for signs of skin cancer every year during your annual physical. In the meantime screen yourself.  Look at your moles for an "ugly duckling" or one that looks significantly different than the others in shape, size, or color. If you find one, go to a doctor to get it checked out. 

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