The Dark Side of the Sun
As the body's largest organ, the skin is integral to human health. As the only visible organ, it is an integal part of human identity. These dual roles have a long history of being at odds with each other.
Until the Victorian era, the skin directly signified wealth and social status. Workers were brown from toiling in the fields, and the royalty were pale from rarely venturing outside. To emphasize their pallor, women applied lead makeup to their skin, unknowingly poisoning themselves.
Many attribute the end of the pale fashion to Coco Chanel, who accidentally became tanned after yachting on the French Riviera. Her bronzed skin became the new representation of wealth after the Industrial Revolution, when the rich spent time browning in the sun and the workers grew pale in factories.
Suntans have been in vogue ever since. Despite warnings from dermatologists that UV radiation is a known carcinogen, the public still seeks the sun, searching for that bronzed, "healthy" glow. This behavior, however, has disturbing consequences. Physicians are now seeing an alarming spike in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In fact, one study found that melanoma cases in young women jumped 50 percent since 1980.
Rising rates are particularly troubling in light of melanoma's prognosis. Only 14 percent of patients with metastatic melanoma survive for five years. The disease is expected to kill 8,420 Americans in 2008 alone. Darrell Rigel, MD, president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, believes melanoma's rising death toll is particularly devastating because many lives could have been saved.
It may seem counterintuitive to blame rising melanoma rates on the sun at a time when most people spend more than 40 hours a week inside an office. However, an unlikely correlation in current statistics supports the connection. Increased UV exposure is the most likely commonality between the demographics with the highest rates of melanoma-women, ages 25 to 29, and men over 50
Since its inception in 1979, The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended using a sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher as one important part of a complete sun protection regimen. Sunscreen alone is not enough, however. Read our full list of skin cancer prevention tips.
The Skin Cancer Foundation has launched 'Go with Your Own Glow.' This compelling video features physicians and editors from the beauty and fashion industries speaking out against the tan and the skin damage it represents.They maintain that having a tan is not glamorous, luxurious nor beautiful. This is a welcome campaign to help people love their own natural and healthy skin tone.
PCA Skin® "Skinsmart" thanks The Skin Cancer Foundation for all their continued efforts in raising public awareness.
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