Leading dermatologist dispels myths, says teens need better protection to avoid cancer

New York, NY, November 2008 – Of the approximately 1.3 million Americans who will learn they have melanomas or other skin cancers this year a growing percentage will be young people. According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma is now the most common cancer among Americans aged 25 to 29, and it is the Number One cause of cancer death among 15 to 20 year olds. Melanoma is linked to too much exposure to the sun in the first 10 to 19 years of life, a period during which according to some reports almost 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposures occurs. Despite skin cancer’s devastating effects on teenagers and the many health risks faced by teens seeking the perfect tan, young sun worshippers continue to soak in the sun’s dangerous rays at an alarming rate.

Study after study has shown that teens ignore the warnings in their quest to “look good.” In the recent American Academy of Dermatology Sun Exposure Teen Study, 63 percent of teens said they look better when they’re tan and 43 percent of teens admit they lay out in the sun, while less than one-third say they always use sun block. Nearly the same percentage say they never use sun block. Joshua Fox, MD, a leading dermatologist and founder of Advanced Dermatology, P.C., warns that teens are at a greater risk and seeks to dispel some of the myths that sun-seeking teens believe, including:

1. Skin cancer is only for older people. In fact, says Dr. Fox, “while melanoma usually develops many years after a person’s excessive sun exposure as a child, we are finding it with alarming increased frequency in kids. For example, just last week I had an eighteen year old boy, who liked outdoor sports, diagnosed with an invasive melanoma. Research shows that many forms of skin cancer start as a result of over-exposure to the sun during childhood. One blistering sunburn in childhood or adolescence may more than double a person’s chances of developing a melanoma later in life.”

2. Tans make you look healthy. Dr. Fox says, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan and asserts that tans do just the opposite.” “Both sunburns and suntans compromise skin cell DNA and cause changes that over time age the skin, giving it a wrinkled, leathery appearance with enlarged pores and cause brown liver spots and white and yellow splotches. But if you are partial to the appearance of having the “color of a tan” try applying a self-tanner which can last for several days. Dr. Fox warns that this does NOT protect the skin from the sun’s exposure.

3. Tanning salons are safer than the sun. While the indoor tanning industry tells kids that tanning beds and sun lamps are safer than lying on the beach in the hot sun, “ongoing use of indoor tanning can be quite dangerous,” Dr. Fox says. “It can increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma by more than 55 percent, and it could nearly double the chances of several other types of skin cancers.” Most sun lamps and tanning beds emit mainly UVA radiation. While these rays don’t necessarily cause sunburn as quickly as does UVB radiation from sunlight, that does not make them safe. “UVA rays actually cause deeper skin damage, and like UVB rays, they also may be linked to immune system damage, premature skin aging and skin cancer promotion,” Dr. Fox says, citing a report of the American Academy of Dermatology. “UVA is a carcinogen, and studies have shown that tanning salons frequently exceed ‘safe’ UV limits, with the rays emitted in aStudy after study tanning parlor being up to 15 times that of the sun.”

4. Sunburn is worse than a tan. “Both are dangerous,” says Dr. Fox, “because both cause DNA damage to the skin cells. While sunburn has been directly linked to skin cancermelanoma, tans also are dangerous because they cause slower damage to the skin, so teens may not realize that they are causing harm.” Most teens realize that a sunburn is bad for you.

5. Sunscreen is only for the beach. “Teenagers at the beach on a hot summer’s day are not the only ones at risk,” says Dr. Fox. “Sun damage occurs anywhere, any time your skin is exposed to sunlight, during all four seasons, whether at the beach or park, on a boat, a ski mountain or golf course. Kids must use sunscreen every time they are outdoors in the sun – even on cloudy days.”

6. Tans are healthy. Many people associate a suntan with good health and vitality. “While Vitamin D is necessary to the body and may help prevent certain cancers,” Dr. Fox says, “just a small amount of sunlight is needed for the body to manufacture it, far less than the amount that creates a suntan and sunburn. Actually a person is better off taking Vitamin D supplements than going out into the sun”.

7. Tan sprays have SPF. Many teens protect themselves from the sun by using self-tanning sprays thinking they’ll get that “healthy” tan look without the sun damage. “That’s only true if a person avoids the sun entirely.” Dr. Fox explained that, while tanning sprays may make teens look tan, they don’t offer any protection from the sun’s damaging rays. “Self-tanners may, in fact, make the skin more susceptible to damage. You will still need to apply a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 after self-tanning,” he says.

Hey, Vin! Solitary’s OK, huh?


Hey, Vin! Solitary’s OK, huh?

By Anthony M. Destefano

June 27, 2007

The retrial of reputed Bonanno crime captain Vincent Basciano began last week in federal court in Brooklyn. Aside from his guilt or innocence on the racketeering murder of Frank Santoro, one of the other questions onlookers are talking about is why the handsome, well-coiffed gangster always seems so tan despite being in solitary confinement. (more…)

Tanning Beds, Sunshine And Skin Cancer: What’s the Connection?


Tanning Beds, Sunshine And Skin Cancer: What’s the Connection?

By Kathy Sena

Here’s a chance to set a greater example for your kids, while protecting your own skin as well. Just say “No” to tanning beds. The recent increase in use of tanning beds by teenagers has contributed to a sharp rise in melanoma rates in young people, says New York city dermatologist, Joshua Fox, M.D. The short-term bronzing effects of tanning-bed use are just not worth the possible long-term consequences of increased skin-cancer risk and premature aging, he adds.

“Particularly during the teenage years, continued use of tanning bed or sun lamp can be quite dangerous,” Fox says. “It can increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma by more than 55 percent, and it can nearly double the chances of basal cell and/or squamous-cell cancer.”

Heaven knows, our “adult” skin doesn’t need the additional damage that can come from sun or tanning bed exposure.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) and the American Cancer Society (ACS):

  • Melanoma now ranks as the most common cancer among people ages 25 to 29;
  • Each year, more than one million people, many of them teenagers, visit tanning salons;
  • Over the past two decades, melanoma rates rose 60.5 percent in women and 26.7 percent in men;
  • Melanoma is linked to excessive sun exposure in the first 10 to 19 years of life, a period during which almost 80 percent of a person’s lifetime sun exposures occurs.

“The reason teens are so at risk is that they are still experiencing tremendous growth at the cellular level, “Fox explains. “Their skin cells, like every other cell in their body, are dividing more rapidly than they do when they reach adulthood. And the more rapidly cells change, the higher the chances detrimentally— particularly when hit by the deleterious effects of the sun —causing cancer to possibly develop.”

Many surveys have found that people use tanning beds for one simple reason: vanity. But a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology suggests there could be more to it. Researchers found evidence that the UVA rays in tanning beds may stimulate the brain endorphins, those “feel-good” hormones, example by taking good care of your skin. There are many safe self-tanning creams, gels and sprays available today that can give the appearance of a natural tan without the devastating side-effects of tanning beds or too much sun.

Basking in healthy, cancer-free skin Parents, doctors urged to counsel teens to avoid tanning


Basking in healthy, cancer-free skin Parents, Parents, doctors urged to counsel teens to avoid tanning< /h2>SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — With spring break, prom and wedding seasons getting under way, young people especially may long to get a head start on a tan as they strive for a sun-kissed look. (more…)

Spotlight on Tanning


Spotlight on Tanning

By Christina Lorenzen
The spotlight is on tanning salons again with new laws. In Suffolk, anyone under 14 is banned from using sun beds and teens 14 to 18 must be accompanied by a parent. In Nassau, everybody under 18 needs signed parent approval. Parents must accompany teens under 16.
There’s good reason for this. “Melanoma is on the rise, and in the 15 to 20 age group, it’s the number one cause of cancer death,” says Joshua Fox M.D., a dermatologist in Roslyn. “Tanning beds are dangerous to teen skins rapid cellular activity.”

He says teens are also likely to be using an acne medication for which there are no warnings about possible side effects of tanning.

“Offer your teen alternatives such as bronzing creams. They need to know that there’s no such thing as safe tan,” Dr. Fox says. Teens should use sun screen and pay attention to skin changes like color, shape and size of moles which should be checked by a dermatologist.”