Report: Youth time to wear sunblock, avoid skin cancer
Posted May 8, 2012
Many young people need to learn to protect themselves against the sun to help prevent skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in America, with 2 million people diagnosed annually, according to a government task force.
Ninth-grader Sabrina Cohen, 14, always wears sunscreen, no matter what she's doing outside.
"I know it's fun to be tan, and it looks nice sometimes, but it's really not worth it," Sabrina said.
The government task force found that counseling children on skin cancer prevention helped make them more responsible about sun exposure.
The task force recommends that doctors talk to patients between ages 10 and 24 about protecting their skin even if they have no history of the disease.
"The sun damage people get in their youth is probably more damaging than what happens when they're older. The body is less able to cope or more easily damaged in a permanent way," said pediatrician Dr. David Keene, with Cedars-Sinai Health Associates in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Primary care doctors are encouraged to tell young patients that tanned skin is damaged skin. Patients with a suspicious spot should be to referred to a dermatologist to determine if it's cancerous or precancerous.
The task force recommends that young people do not go to tanning salons, avoid the mid-day sun and, particularly younger children, use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
The report also states that people with fair skin and light-colored eyes need to be especially careful because they have an increased risk of cancer.
Debbie Cohen said she worked hard to help her daughter Sabrina develop the habit of wearing sunscreen.
"When I put suncreen on them before a game or before school, they'd be so annoyed and say I was the only mom doing this. And then I said, 'One day, you'll thank me,'" Cohen said.
Today, Sabrina makes it a point to avoid tanning.
"I know that it has a bad affect on you later on, so it's not even worth it," she said.