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Thinking they are invincible and born to have fun more than anything else, many teenagers, with their flawed mind set often leads them into trouble. Their belief system that their age is not synonymous with skin cancer is one of the most troubling. Here are the top teen myths about sun care and skin cancer — the real deal.
Teen Myth #1: Skin cancer doesn’t happen to teenagers or young adults until they are 40 or older.
The Fact: The melanoma foundation in the United States has witnessed a tremendous rise in the statistics of teenagers battling Melanoma, regardless of skin color. In the most recent report published by the National Cancer Institute of the US states that the melanoma among teenagers continue to rise and is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.
Teen Myth#2: Tanned skin results to healthier skin
The Fact: Up until 2007, 81% of teenagers believe that tanned skin is in according to one study authored by J Robinson, et al. Teenagers have always been more inclined to follow the trend rather than do what is right which is why the teenage years are dubbed as the rebellious age.
UV rays from the sun or artificial sources as tanning beds have been proven to increase the risk of melanoma by 51% according to the NCI and the recently concluded poll of the ADA just this May, 2011, lists 32% of teenagers ignoring the risk of tanning beds with 25% having a tan weekly. Excessive UV rays on the skin are dangerous, there nothing healthy about it.
Teen Myth: Tanning beds DON'T burn the skin so it’s healthy
The Fact: There is no such thing as a healthy ray from tanning beds. Sharon Miller of the FDA points out that Although some people think that a tan gives them a glow, any tan is a sign of skin damage. UVA rays, which are emitted by tanning beds don’t burn the skin but these are the contributors to early aging and skin cancer.
Teen Myth: Sunscreen use is for summer alone or when you’re going to the beach
The Fact: The World Health Organization states the fine print: Up to 80% of solar UV radiation can penetrate light cloud cover. Haze in the atmosphere can even increase UV radiation exposure. Ground reflection: grass, soil and water reflect less than 10% of UV radiation; fresh snow reflects as much as 80%; dry beach sand about 15% and sea foam about 25%.
As UV radiation can neither be seen nor felt, it is important to provide a tool to raise awareness of the problem and alert people on a daily basis to take prompt, appropriate, protective action.
Teens Myth: Wearing sunscreen daily leads to Vitamin D deficiency
The Fact: Vitamin D may be the sunshine Vitamin that aids in bone development and strengthening the immune system but it takes 20 minutes of unexposed skin to rack up 1,000 IU of Vitamin D. The risks of skin cancer are higher than the benefits. Vitamin D can be sourced from supplements, which you can easily consume up to 2000 IU, in a safer way.
Teens Myth: Melanin rich skin doesn’t need sunscreen
The Fact: Rich Complexions is not exempted from sun burn, especially skin cancer. Bob Marley is an example. Usually the rate of skin cancer in rich complexions is lower but deadlier because detection is harder in melanin rich skin.
Sun Awareness and Sunscreen Advocacy
Raising awareness of the dangers of UV rays especially from tanning has been pushed throughout the years. There has also been a collective effort to educate teens about the reality of skin cancer which they are not exempted.
Majority of the states in the US have also taken action by restricting indoor tanning for minors without their parents consent. Some states are pushing for stricter laws like absolutely banning minors from tanning salons.
Teens with their compulsory activities under the sun are advised to wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher. Seeking the shade when possible and wearing the appropriate clothing should always be part of the routine to prevent the sun from damaging the skin.
Teenage skin can benefit from wearing broad spectrum sunscreen with superior photostability that simultaneously protects and nourishes.
A sunscreen that can hydrate the skin and repair internal damage through antioxidants is not only safe to use, but it leads to a healthier and glowing complexion as opposed to a sun tan.
For now, the challenge continues, the government, schools, medical experts and especially parents should always seize the opportunity to alter the teen’s mindset for this can save their life in the future.