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What City Tops the 'Sun Smart' List?

Survey Ranks Cities by Their Residents' Knowledge of Sun Cancer Protection

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Where the appeal of a tan was concerned, 72% of respondents nationally believed that tanned skin looks good. In Pittsburgh, the second-lowest ranked city, 81% of residents had that impression, while in the 3rd highest-ranked city of Denver 65% agreed that a tan improves a person's attractiveness.

"We're hoping the results of this survey will draw attention to the public's need to change its attitudes toward tanning, which is the first step in changing behavior," James says in a news release.

He notes that if detected early, skin cancers can be successfully treated. It is a different story, however, when detection is late. The five-year survival rates for individuals with regional and distant melanoma are 65% and 16% respectively, James says.

Melanomas generally grow sideways before they grow deep, he tells WebMD, and while they are growing laterally they are not generally invasive, have less tendency to spread, and are far more curable than when they are detected later.

When detected late, melanomas are much harder to treat successfully, he says. "That's why people must be vigilant about protecting their skin from sun exposure and aware of the early warning signs of skin cancer."

Tips to Prevent Skin Cancer

To reduce the risk of skin cancer, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following tips:

  • Find shade whenever possible, keeping in mind that the sun's rays are most potent between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If your shadow is shorter than you are, find shade.
  • Use a generous supply of broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 to all exposed skin. Reapply about every two hours, even on cloudy days and after swimming and perspiring.
  • Protect children from sun exposure by using protective clothing and sunscreen and playing in the shade.
  • Avoid tanning beds. Ultraviolet light from the sun and tanning beds can cause skin cancer and wrinkling. A sunless self-tanning product may provide a tanned look, but remember to use it along with sunscreen.
  • Wear protective apparel such as a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a long-sleeved shirt whenever possible.
  • A person is more likely to get sunburned when near water, snow, and sand because of their reflective properties. 
  • Do not seek the sun to meet requirements for Vitamin D. Consider a healthy diet that includes vitamin supplements.
  • Check your skin every year. If you see any skin findings that are changing, growing, or bleeding, see a dermatologist.

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