To the editor:
On behalf of the Ohio Dermatological Association, I am writing to raise awareness of the month of May being designated as Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month by the Ohio General Assembly.
In an effort to curb the skin cancer epidemic in Ohio and the United States, the ODA is educating and advocating for skin cancer detection and prevention. More than 1 million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year and approximately one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
Of serious concern is the alarming increased incidence of the potentially deadly malignant melanoma in young people. Melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years of age and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15 to 24 years of age.
The incidence of malignant melanoma is especially increasing in young adult women, due to their exposure to hazardous ultraviolet tanning bed radiation. A recent report demonstrated that using indoor tanning increases one's chances of developing melanoma, especially if utilized before age 35.
Another study published in December 2011 found indoor tanners have a 69 percent increased risk of developing the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, even if a person only used a tanning bed once in their lifetime. More alarming, the risk was even higher for those who began indoor tanning prior to age 16.
The science is clear - if you use indoor tanning beds, your risk of developing skin cancer significantly increases.
In honor of this important designation in Ohio law, we are using the month of May to urge lawmakers to support efforts like HB 131 and SB 113 to prevent skin cancer. This legislation would protect our children from dangerous UV tanning bed radiation.
For more than 25 years, the ODA has educated our youth and adults about the dangers of hazardous UV tanning bed radiation. While education is important, especially during this month, education is not enough. We are asking the Ohio General Assembly to enact HB 131 and to strengthen regulations to limit minors' exposure to dangerous UV tanning bed radiation.
We urge you to contact your state legislator and ask them to support this important public health initiative and help prevent skin cancer in one of Ohio's greatest assets, its children.
Dr. Karl K. Kellawan