American Academy of Dermatology Urges the Public to Be Smart in the Sun

SCHAUMBURG, Ill., May 25 /PRNewswire/  

The American Academy of Dermatology today issued a statement in response to reports in the media that sunshine may prevent cancer. These reports linking the health benefits of vitamin D to sun exposure is leading to public confusion. For decades, dermatologists have advised the public to practice proper sun protection to prevent skin cancer — and that same advice holds true today, despite any claims to the contrary.

While the health benefits of vitamin D are well known, prescribing sunshine to get vitamin D is highly irresponsible," stated dermatologist Clay J. Cockerell, M.D., president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "Even when wearing sunscreen, the average person receives enough incidental ultraviolet (UV) exposure through daily activities to achieve recommended vitamin D levels. People should not increase their exposure to either natural or artificial UV light because there is a high risk of developing skin cancer from repeated exposure."

Instead of seeking the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends that anyone concerned about getting enough vitamin D should supplement a healthy diet with vitamins and fortified foods and beverages. "While many health issues are complex and involve multiple factors, we know that ultraviolet light is the primary cause of skin cancer and avoiding excessive exposure to the sun and other forms of ultraviolet radiation is the solution," said Dr. Cockerell.

"Individuals who seek the sun are intentionally putting their health at risk. When you are enjoying yourself outdoors, be smart by taking steps to protect yourself — seek shade whenever possible, wear sunscreen and cover up with a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, pants and sunglasses. Also, avoid tanning beds." At current rates, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime. It is estimated that 105,750 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer) this year — a 10 percent increase in new cases of melanoma from 2004. Melanoma will claim approximately 7,770 lives this year alone.

The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 14,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails.

For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or http://www.aad.org . Source: American Academy of Dermatology

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