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Utah leads nation in deadly melanoma cases

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Utah leads nation in deadly melanoma cases

By Mary Richards | Posted - Jul. 29, 2014 at 12:54 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — A new report on skin cancer shows Utah leads the nation in deadly melanoma cases. Health officials are urging Utahns to protect themselves against skin cancer.

The Skin Cancer Foundation reports one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. A new report says Utah has the highest rate of new melanoma skin cancer cases in the country. Midvale dermatologist Dr. Brian Williams said it's important to understand how the sun works.

“The UVA rays are the ones more responsible for aging and a little bit for the skin cancers, but the UVBs are the ones more responsible for burning and for skin cancer,” Williams said.

Even more important is to understand how sunscreen and SPF works, he added.

“For example, if you were to get sunburned or start to get pink in about 20 minutes and you used an SPF of 15, that would make it so you wouldn't sunburn 15 times longer, or five hours,” Williams said.

However, no sunscreen is allowed to say it lasts longer than two hours, so you have to re-apply. Utah's rate of melanoma is 61 percent higher than the national rate and the mortality rate is 30 percent higher, according to Utah's cancer registry.

Health officials said Utahns get more skin cancer here because of their outdoor lifestyles, the higher elevation and how sunlight is reflected off snow and ice.

“We know we can protect ourselves by wearing sunscreen and scheduling outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon,” said Lynne Nilson, director of the UDOH Cancer Control Program. "As a state, however, we need to not only encourage these behaviors, but also make them easier by providing shade structures in public outdoor spaces, limiting the use of indoor tanning devices, and where possible making sunscreen available and accessible at worksites and outdoor venues.”

In addition to avoiding indoor tanning, Utahns can practice sun safe habits while outside to help prevent melanoma, the Utah Department of Health said in a statement. These habits include, staying out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., properly applying and reapplying sunscreen, seeking shade, wearing sunglasses and hats with a wide brim, and wearing pants or long skirts and shirts with long sleeves.

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Mary Richards

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