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The Surgeon General Should Say That Indoor Ultraviolet Radiation Tanning Causes Skin Cancer

      The Surgeon General’s 1964 report states that smoking is causally related to lung cancer, an association that has been solidified and widely accepted by healthcare practitioners, policymakers, and the general public.

      United States Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. Smoking and health. profiles.nlm.nih.gov/NN/B/B/M/Q/. Published 1964. Accessed February 23, 2015.

      In July 2014, the Acting Surgeon General, Dr. Lushniak, delivered “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer.”

      DHHS. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent skin cancer. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2014. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/prevent-skin-cancer/call-to-action-prevent-skin-cancer.pdf. Accessed February 23, 2015.

      This important report calls upon members at all levels of government, health care, and the community to accomplish strategic goals for skin cancer prevention, including the promotion of sun protection and education; policy change; and increased research, surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation. However, the Call to Action lacks a simple causative statement that indoor ultraviolet radiation (UV) tanning causes skin cancer, analogous to smoking causing lung cancer. Additionally, during a stakeholder phone call discussing the Call to Action (July 29, 2014), Claudia Delude of the Jeff Dulude Melanoma Foundation asked the Acting Surgeon General, “Are you saying in this call to action that indoor UV tanning causes skin cancer?” The Surgeon General responded, “…We are saying that indoor UV tanning is strongly associated with increased skin cancer risk…”
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      References

      1. United States Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health. Smoking and health. profiles.nlm.nih.gov/NN/B/B/M/Q/. Published 1964. Accessed February 23, 2015.

      2. DHHS. The Surgeon General’s call to action to prevent skin cancer. Washington, DC: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2014. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calls/prevent-skin-cancer/call-to-action-prevent-skin-cancer.pdf. Accessed February 23, 2015.

      3. American Cancer Society. Cancer facts & figures. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014. www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/webcontent/acspc-042151.pdf. Accessed February 23, 2015.

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      Linked Article

      • Letter Regarding Indoor Ultraviolet Radiation Tanning and Skin Cancer
        American Journal of Preventive MedicineVol. 49Issue 5
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          Karimkhani and colleagues1 called on the Surgeon General to announce that indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning is causally linked to skin cancer, making the analogy to smoking and lung cancer. Smoking kills hundreds of thousands in the U.S. annually and has no health benefits. Only about 10% of the U.S. population uses tanning devices, so indoor UV tanning cannot be responsible for more than 14% of U.S. deaths per year from cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM) (834, 95% CI=646, 1,020).2,3
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