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Fill-in-the-Blank News Release
for County Health Departments

For Release: June __, 2002
Contact: (Administrator)
_____________ County Health Department
(Telephone number)

Protect Your Skin from the Summer Sun

Young people are ignoring warnings by health professionals to protect their skin from the hot summer sun, according to ___________ County Health Department Administrator ________________. A recent study of children and adolescents ages 12 -18 from all 50 states revealed that only one-third of the youth reported routine use of sunscreen during the previous summer.

The study, "Use of Sunscreen, Sunburning Rates and Tanning Bed Use Among More than 10,000 Children and Adolescents," further stated that nearly 10 percent of the youth reported using a tanning bed during the previous year. Most of the youth reported sunburning at least once, and of the children that burned more than once, half felt it was worth it to get a tan.

"Clearly we are concerned that the message about the dangers of getting skin cancer are not reaching the young in a meaningful way to stop harmful behaviors," said ________________. "Whether the tan comes from a salon, or the sun, young adults are not doing their skin any favors. Looking good now may cause premature aging later."

"American culture often equates a suntan with health and beauty. But in reality, that image contributes to skin damage and cancer. It's time to get out the message for young people to value their skin's natural pigmentation. Save the skin you're in. It's for your health's sake," _________________ said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says chronic sun exposure eventually causes wrinkles, sagging cheeks and skin discoloration. There is also the danger of getting skin cancer. The AAP says all that skin damage in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood is a key factor in the development of skin cancer.

Most non-melanoma skin cancers (the most common cancer in America) can be attributed to unprotected sun exposure - specifically ultraviolet or "UV-A" and "UV-B" rays. Research suggests bulbs at tanning salons emit ultraviolet rays too. The deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, killed about 7,800 people in the United States last year, and that number is expected to rise this year. Melanoma often strikes people who have suffered deep, intense sunburns, particularly in childhood and adolescence.

The first, best, defense against the rays of the sun is covering up. Some suggestions to protect skin against sunburning are:

  • Wear a hat with a three-inch brim or a bill facing forward.
  • Wear sunglasses that block 99-100% of ultraviolet rays.
  • Wear cotton clothing with a tight weave.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible.
  • Avoid sun exposure during the peak intensity hours - between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Apply sunscreen before going outside.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or after swimming or sweating, even on cloudy days. Sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 should be effective for most people. Apply about one ounce per sitting for a young adult.


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