A disturbing increase in the incidence of skin cancer has prompted the U.S Surgeon General to issue a 'cigarette style' warning to Americans to avoid indoor tanning salons, Newsradio 1200 WOAI's Berit Mason reports.
Unlike almost every other type of cancer, skin cancer cases continue to rise, and the surgeon general says the lifestyle changes which have allowed individuals to avoid, for example, lung cancer have not been applied to the dangerous of indoor tanning.
Dr. Steven Kalter, an oncologist at San Antonio's START Center says the Surgeon General's warning is very good advice.
"In addition to all of the exposure that is unavoidable, living in south Texas the way we do, these tanning salons simply offer more ultraviolet radiation, and increase our risk that much more," Dr. Kalter said.
The report covers individuals of all skin colors, and urges the use of sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to avoid exposure to the sun. The report also calls on schools to businesses to urban planners to make sure shady spaces are provided to the public.
Dr. Kalter says there is no doubt in his experience that tanning beds are responsible for an increase in skin cancer cases.
"The Surgeon General has come out and basically made war against the tanning salons," he said. "The point that he makes is that we are seeing a considerable rise in skin cancers of various kinds."
Dr. Kalter says living in southern latitudes, we get a lot more exposure to the direct rays of the sun than do people who live up north, so the warning should be heeded here.
Dr. Kalter says we need to have the same attitude shift about tanning that we have gone through about smoking. Baby Boomers and anybody who watches 'Mad Men' remembers that smoking cigarettes used to be cool...but now it isn't.
"Tanning is associated with being cool and being at ease and this sort of thing," he says. "It seems to increase the attractiveness of the person."