Reblog: A little unsolicited health advice for Melanoma Monday

This is a reblog of the post I wrote two years ago for Melanoma Monday.

Melanoma MondayIt’s not just accepted, but it’s almost expected that seeing someone smoke a cigarette is an invitation for lectures and health lessons. I know. I smoked for 17 years (minus the 21 months that I was pregnant or breastfeeding). Smokers all know that smoking is bad for them. You don’t have to say it.

Tanners, however, don’t usually know the risks. They are typically very misinformed about what is safe. And yet very few people feel it’s appropriate to spout off lectures and health lessons when someone tells you that he or she is going tanning. I’m not really all about the lectures, but I won’t hesitate to share health information, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do today, Melanoma Monday.

My mom was first diagnosed with melanoma when she was 17 years old. It was not tanning related. She had a malignant mole on her back. She went into remission, and was considered almost “cured”. When she was 33, she was diagnosed once again. She only lived another 4 months.

For obvious reasons, melanoma is something I think about often. I’m obsessive about sun screen, for both my daughter and myself. I stay out of the sun as much as possible. And I am quite happy with my whiteness in the summer time. I hear a lot of false information spouted off about tanning. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. It’s safer to go to a tanning salon than to tan naturally because the UV radiation is regulated.
  2. “Base tans” will protect your skin from burning.
  3. I don’t need to wear sun screen because I have dark skin and can’t get skin cancer. ::cough:: Kes ::cough::
  4. It’s cloudy outside, so I don’t need to wear sunscreen.
  5. It’s cold out today. I can’t get a sunburn.
  6. Tanning makes me look younger.

The list goes on and on.

Here’s a plain and simple fact from The Skin Cancer Foundation: There is no such thing as a healthy tan. Got that? There is no healthy “base tan” and there is no safe indoor tanning. In fact, those who tan indoors before they’re 30 have a 75% higher chance of getting melanoma than someone who hasn’t tanned indoors. Tanning is your body’s way of repairing damaged skin. If your skin was completely healthy, you wouldn’t have a tan.

Here’s another fact: People with darker skin tones can get skin cancer. While the chances of a skin cancer diagnosis are slimmer, the odds of death are greater. Why? You ask. Because for those with darker skin, the cancer is usually discovered in the much later stages.

Cloudy skies and cool temperatures are not protections from the sun. UV radiation has nothing to do with the heat, so a nice cool breeze won’t keep you from burning. Overcast days can often be MORE damaging than sunny days because people feel a false sense of security.

Oh, and as for tanning making you look younger . . . Tanning AGES the skin. It causes wrinkles, age spots, and leathery skin.

All I ask is that the next time you consider tanning, think about the health costs. Consider a spray tan or just learn to love your paleness.

I know I focused on tanning here, but I’d also like to point out the importance of checking moles. You need to look over your body head to toe at least once a month for any new moles or existing ones that have changed size or shape. Women, you should be doing a self breast exam every month, and men, you should be doing a self testicular exam every month . . . why not check your skin at the same time?

Take a moment today, on Melanoma Monday, to educate yourself about your skin. The Skin Cancer Foundation’s website has loads of information.

This is the post I wrote last year for Melanoma Monday.

Photo Credit

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4 responses to this post.

  1. My sister was recently diagnosed with melanoma and have to have a spot on her arm removed. I thought about your mother and now that I am reminded about how hers showed up so many years later, I will encourage my sis to get annual check-ups. I’ve never understood the desire to tan. I guess not only do I have modern tastes in literature, but I adhere to the 19th century idea of beauty. 🙂

    Reply

    • I hope everything went well with your sister and yes, please do encourage your sister . . . while melanoma can be so devastating, it is one of the easiest cancers to put in remission when it’s caught early!

      And I’m with you on not understanding tanning . . . . I admit that I did lay out when I was in high school (though only with sunscreen on and I never went to a tanning booth). But for the last 10+ years, I’ve been quite happy with my paleness and I generally avoid the sun as much as humanly possible (though there are other reasons for that 😛 )!

      Reply

  2. Resharing this on Facebook cause I have stubborn family and friends that seem to think tanning is SO cool and I really wish they would listen and learn the dangers!

    Reply

    • Thank you, Sharon! I know every person needs to understand these things on their own (in the same way that no amount of lecturing ever helped me quit smoking), but you also never know when the right bit of information is going to hit someone at the right time to help them understand . . . so I’m all about sharing these things as often as possible!

      Reply

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