Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Skin cancer in the news again

I know that the chances are pretty high that there are least a couple of readers who use tanning beds or who tan deeply in the sun – I like to think that most don’t. However, in a new study, there are still high school students who ignore all the messages and continue to use tanning beds. To me, tanning beds are akin to cigarettes. Both are terribly dangerous and can cause death.

In palliative care, I looked after people who were dying of skin cancer. I know people personally who died of skin cancer. I also know people who are at very high risk of it. The fact that my generation and higher is seeing a lot of skin cancer isn’t surprising to me. After all, we did go out in the sun as kids and, especially if you are fair like me, we got burned, burned, and burned again. I had burns so bad that they are treated in hospital emergencies if a kid gets them now. Huge blisters on my shoulders and nights and days of agony because I couldn’t lie down or move without being in a lot of pain. And the dehydration that went along with it. Miserable, it was so miserable.

But now that we know how dangerous it is, why is it that people don’t listen? It must be part of that it will never happen to me syndrome. People don’t step into the path of a truck that is barrelling down the street because the results are instant. But they don’t mind paying for the privilege of being under a light that will change the colour of their skin and increase their chances of developing skin cancer because it won’t happen for several years to come. Or, they take the free route and lie baking under the sun. According to Statistics Canada, there will be approximately 4600 new cases of melanoma in Canada in 2007; there will be 900 deaths of melanoma in Canada in 2007. According the National Cancer Institute of the US National Institutes of health, there will be approximately 59.940 new cases of melanoma in the US in 2007 and 8100 deaths from melanoma in that same time period.

I’m not against sunshine. A previous blog entry was about how I felt that we were going overboard by not going out in the sun. But going out for 20 or 30 minutes to get some sunshine and to get its benefits isn’t the same as lying in the sun for hours to get that perfect tan. There is no perfect tan.

News for Today:
Over-the-counter diet drug recalled
Looming obesity epidemic requires action: experts
Too fat? Common virus may be to blame: study
High alcohol consumption increases stroke risk, Tulane study says
Survey reveals disparities in skin cancer knowledge, protection among high school students
Americans Using Painkillers More Than Ever


Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy, for someone who is/was in the health care field one would expect that you would have a more educated opinion.

Perhaps a visit to sites such as www.uvtalk.com would help to enlighten you?


Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Since the introduction of SPF and the sunscare NOT ONLY has ALL CANCER and ILLNESS gone up but MELANOMA SKIN CANCER has gone up also.

If SPF was the answer, wouldn't we have seen some POSITIVE RESULTS BY NOW?

No, we see the exact opposite. You need the sun to live on Earth. Martians, I dunno. We'll have to ask them when they get here.

900 deaths from melanoma. All tanners?

300 people die A YEAR from falling out of bed.


How about this fun FACT, 7000 people die a year from POOR DOCTOR HANDWRITING ON PRESCRIPTION SLIPS.

7000 thousand a year.

Yeah, but tanning salons are bad.

I guess gas stations will be attacked for selling gas to drunk drivers for profit.

How dare they.

Anonymous said...

I could see you wanting to stay out of the sun. If I was that ugly, I'd cover up too.

Anonymous said...

Hello people! It's a blog... opinions! Lets not be personally attacking someone on their BLOG!!!!! What the point??

Luv ya Marijke!

Anonymous said...

some of these posts do seem kinda angry but you do realize that 900 deaths a year is really statistically insignificant and really overblown.

There are 300million people in North America.

300:300,000,000 or
1:1,000,000 people will die every year from melanoma.

You have a better chance of being hit by lightening is 1:700,000.

I have no problem with people being concerned about the well being of others but to trash an industry that has the best track record of any FDA regulated business is just counterproductive ESPECIALLY in this economy or lack there of.

60% of all people are overweight. Telling people to avoid the sun just encourages their lethargic ways. This leads to heart disease, one of the leading causes of death in America among other things such as diabetes, etc.

The REAL problem is the doctors that have no problem dishing out pain meds that are basically slow release heroin for joint pain.

Anonymous said...

as bad as cigarets! HA! Doctors used to sell cigarettes too my friend!!

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Yup. they used to. And?

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, this is surprising considering that almost all respected medical professionals and scientists that I've ever encountered have agreed with Marijke on this.

Maybe somehow all the previous years of research will turn out to be wrong--occasionally that does happen. But to accuse someone like Marijke of being uneducated hardly helps your "cause," whatever it is this uvtalk website is pushing. Makes me very much NOT want to go there to find out what it's about.

Anonymous said...

Any "insults" posted after the first response are not from me, the poster of that first response. And you will also note that I said more educated, not uneducated. Much of the general pulbic needs to be more educated on this topic.

Education on this topic is limited to what the Derms and sunsreen industry want you to hear.

Have you seen this one yet?



Anonymous said...

If you think products are recalled due to your safety you need to wake up and smell reality.

You are a number and that is that.

When the cost to "fix the problem" costs more than a total recall is when there is a recall.

Not before.

How many Firestone tire defects did it take before they fixed the problem? It took many DEATHS before they did anything.


How many people are now addicted to Oxycotin a medication that was only for people with terminal cancer? Tens of thousands cause that's how you make the money.

If the medical industry cared about your well being they wouldn't have a pill for all of life's problems. They would tell you to grow up and deal with reality.

Anonymous said...

to say spf would have saved your fellow boomers is to forget that many things cause skin cancer including OLD AGE.

How about when they used to spray for mosquitoes with DDT??? Kids used to run through these clouds of smoke when the trucks went by.


How about LEADED GAS? Lead paint?

It's called healthy living. That's how you keep yourself illness free.

NO PILL can cure this but doctors still push then on people. In fact, NO PILL CAN CURE ANYTHING. No diet can cure anything except HEALTHY LIVING.

That includes moderate sun exposure.

If you want to say that tanning salon owners are all out to over cook people is just crazy.

Once again, the best track record of all FDA regulated business is the tanning industry.

Take a look at the morality rate for illnesses across the country. Deaths/illnesses/cancer all go DOWN the closer to the equator you are.

That's indisputable fact.

Sorry but we are born from the sun and we now dam it and our health is dwindled to relying on fists full of pills.

That's not reality. That's selling out your fellow man.

That's scary.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Obviously you didn't read my post.

That's a shame, because I'm not the one coming out looking silly.

Anonymous said...

"To me, tanning beds are akin to cigarettes. Both are terribly dangerous and can cause death."

Sorry, but that statement IS silly.

Unknown said...

I think you may want to reconsider your comment about medical recalls. There are numerous deaths daily from reactions to medications that were taken exactly as prescribed. The greater good has to be weighed.

I understand the hesitancy in accepting some of the newer research, but when studies are published by such distinguished facilities as Dana Farber, (Harvard University's cancer center) and Dr. Holick from Boston University in the latest NEJM, you have to consider that there may be something to this.

Also, you mentioned moderation. Any reputable tanning salon will not only suggest, but require moderation in the use of their equipment. If they are allowing their customers to tan longer than the FDA required maximum session, they should be shut down. I am to lazy or pressed for time, depending on your perspective, to look up the references, but there are numerous studies that have been published lately saying that there is no known link between MODERATE UV exposure and an increased risk of melanoma. As a matter of fact, there seems to be just the opposite. Also, by the AAD's own admission, there is some doubt as to whether there is a real increase in the occurrence of melanoma or if it is due to inconclusive tests being classified as melanoma.

I signed my name to my last post as well as had a link to 2 of my websites. My post disappeared, so I left those out of this one. If I broke some rule about spamming, I apologize.

Anonymous said...

""To me, tanning beds are akin to cigarettes. Both are terribly dangerous and can cause death."

Sorry, but that statement IS silly."

Let me guess... your a smoker AND you lay in tanning beds??? It's not silly if its HER opinion!

I really agree with her on this. They are both dangerous and they both can cause death. How is that silly. Just because the numbers aren't the same doesn't mean it isn't true what she said.

Anonymous said...

Sorry tanning beds kill is NOT an accurate statement, I'll give you the other one as fact.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, it's just a shame more opinions cannot be educated ones. Unfortunately most people are satisfied with what they "learn" from one-sided news reports and are not willing to listen and learn some real facts when they are offered them.

Anonymous said...

Tanning beds CAN lead to cancer... cancer kills. i.e. death. What's hard to understand about that.

It's really hard to want to listen to peoples other side when it's preceeded with "What are you an idiot??"

-just a friend AND a cancer survivor...

Anonymous said...
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Laura K. Curtis said...

900 *deaths* is statistically insignificant. But how many people have had their quality of life go down considerably due to skin cancers of one kind or another? The same is true of cigarrettes or even wars. When you hear about injuries sustained in Iraq, for example (which in and of itself is a rarity), the picture that comes to mind is *not* the guy who can't walk, who's lost half his face, who will be wearing a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.

When I was a kid, the thing we did before we went to the beach was to slather on baby oil, occasionally with a little iodine in it for even better frying. I'm scarred from it. I had a pre-cancerous mole removed last month. I am one of the lucky ones--so far, no melanoma. Does the large "freckle" on my forehead bother me? It sure does.

And even if you prefer not to think about all the people whose lives are affected negatively by exposure to the sun, and even if you want to dismiss 900 deaths a year as statistically insignificant, why shouldn't we all try to prevent those deaths?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Obviously cooking yourself in the sun is bad for you. No denying that. I think the argument is whether moderate UV exposure is good or bad. For years, all we heard was to avoid the sun and tanning beds at all costs. Now, it is finally coming to light that, like all things, moderation is the key.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

Wow, Marijke, I cannot believe all this controversy. I know at least two people who died from skin cancer. I avoided sun all my life because I learned early that I am too fair to do more than burn and peel and that hurts.

Even with all my caution, I've had pre-cancerous areas removed. I work next door to a tanning salon and I cringe when I see the young ones go in on such a regular basis.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Some of the objectors sound just like the "I support smoking" people of forty years ago. We'll see what their tune is forty years from now.


Anonymous said...

I believe reading through here someone said that if she thinks tanning is bad, than thats her opinion. Well yes, opinions are opinions, not denying anyone of that, but facts are facts. And she needs to be educated on the facts of UV, and the positives it does to your overall health and well being. Someome suggested, uvtalk.com, please check that out, its a great site to learn about the positives of UV and how it affects are health.