The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal

MAY 2013

The 2012 edition of The Skin Cancer Foundation Journal features medically reviewed, reader-friendly articles such as tanning, the increasing incidence of skin cancer diagnoses among young women, & the prevalence of melanoma among white males over 50.

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BEAUTY Should parents focus more on the risk of skin cancer due to tanning, or on vanity — increased skin aging and the damage to one's appearance? It depends on the teens and their personal interests. I use the cosmetic argument. I ask, "Ten years from now, do you want to look older than your friends who didn't tan?" I often show them a photo of a truck driver whose face is vastly aged on the left side from the sun. [People who do a lot of driving are more likely to have sun damage and skin cancers on the left side of the face, which receives more UV (ultraviolet) radiation than the right.] That being said, some teens are not concerned with their looks, and for them, a discussion about the health risks associated with tanning could be effective. What about teens who say they feel more attractive when they're tan? Girls feel a huge pressure to be skinny, and many believe they look thinner, and more attractive, when tan. In these cases, you can emphasize non-UV tanning options, like self-tanners and spray tans. These can look natural, and they won't damage your skin, though they must be worn with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF, or sun protection factor, of 15+ for brief everyday exposures, and SPF 30+, water-resistant sunscreen for extended or intense sun exposures. I don't use self-tanners myself — I believe in going with your own glow — but I recommend self-tanners as opposed to UV, by all means. What do you tell teens who say that tanning improves their mood? For teens suffering from SAD [seasonal affective disorder, a common mood disorder that causes depression, generally during the gloom of winter], the treatment is visible light. It's the light that enters the eyes through a lamp or light box that treats SAD, not UV light from a tanning bed. Does it help to cite celebrities who have shunned tanning? Yes, absolutely. We need to point to celebrities like Adele, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Swift, and Emma Stone. None of these stars are tan. Do you have any other suggestions? Repetition is key — you can never repeat your message too often! Also, personal stories can be very powerful. I have sun damage on my arms from my childhood, and when I'm trying to educate kids I show them my arms, which have little white dots I can't get rid of. I'm sure I'm not the only parent who can use himself or herself as an example! Modern medicine is about prevention, and education is such an important part of it. Much of this education should come from home. So share your sunscreen, and your information. aMy WeChSleR, MD, is Adjunct Assistant Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College, and Assistant Clinical Professor in Dermatology at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center. A dermatologist practicing in New York, she is the author of The MindBeauty Connection: 9 Days to Reverse Stress Aging and Reveal More Youthful, Beautiful Skin. Dr. Wechsler is consulting dermatologist to Chanel, and a recipient of the Scholastic Achievement Award from the American Medical Women's Association. 28 SK I N C A NCER FOU N DAT ION JOU R NA L

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