Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Award-winning Organization Touts Innovative Ways for "Crusading" Against Skin Cancer

The Cancer Crusaders Organization, an all-volunteer skin cancer education facility located in Utah, launched the "Only Skin Deep?"® Peer Educator's Training and Certification Program via an internet radio show - Conversations with Cancer in May 2006. The show, which garnered a prestigious Gold Triangle for Excellence from the American Academy of Dermatology, aired weekly to audience of 19-million worldwide via the Grapevine Talk Radio Network.

"We wanted to launch a pilot version our skin cancer curriculum to determine how effective it was; to glean feedback and discover ways to improve upon it so that we could then make it available to the masses," says Danielle M. White, co-founder and president of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. White wrote and developed the "Only Skin Deep?"® program in effort to actively recruit high school and college students. "I traveled with my friend Natalie when she was Miss Utah teaching more than 500 people about sun safety and took mental notes," White says. "I then thought back to when I was in school, and what tools and techniques helped me learn; what made learning enjoyable and meaningful. I took those factors in to account and decided to create a program that gave young adults opportunities to teach their peers about skin cancer."

And that is when the "Only Skin Deep?"® Peer Educator's Training and Certification Program was born.

The program, which includes a training manual, CD-ROMS, and other learning tools, combines traditional classroom learning with a strong hands-on service learning component which makes it interactive.

"I saw that there needed to be a better way to reach young adults, especially since they are the ones who will soon be entering the workforce, starting families, and engaging in community/civic leadership activities," White says. "They are going to be in a position to teach skin cancer prevention to the next generation."

So, White teamed up with the award-winning Grapevine Talk Radio Network, a leader in global internet talk radio, also based in Utah, and pitched the idea of having a weekly skin cancer talk show. The producers responded favorably to the idea, and once the show started gaining popularity among network listeners, White utilized it as venue to launch her pilot program.

"We had three local college students from Utah Valley State join me in the studio each week, and had another three students from different countries across the state tune-in live via grapevineradio.com, and turned the show into a distance education class; it was akin to a college course--just on the internet." White adds, "It was so much fun for me to teach skin cancer every week, and it was fun for the students and listeners, too. They would get so excited when they got the right answer, which would make their day and mine. It was an incredible opportunity for me to teach and work with the youth in this way."

Upon completion of the four month-long pilot course, students completed a final exam and evaluation of the program to receive certification as a peer educator. Maile Wilson, a junior at Southern Utah University, participated in the program to learn more about skin cancer as part of her platform for the Miss SUU Scholarship Pageant. "Skin cancer is in my family, and when I heard about this program I thought it was a great opportunity to learn more about skin cancer, and learn how to teach other people about it," Wilson says. "I learned so much more than I ever thought I would." Wilson's final exam--an essay on tanning--was featured in White's recent book.

"After the pilot program launched, I realized that this helped me make skin cancer prevention become more personal, meaningful, and relevant for young adults," White says. "And to keep young adults interested in skin cancer prevention, the message needs to tailor especially to them and their interests--they need to get something out of it; a sense of satisfaction. It needs to be hands-on and engaging." White, who is in her 20s, continues, "Listening to a dermatologist telling you to apply sunscreen and not go tanning is valuable and important because they are the experts, and we invite them to be apart of the program, [but] the message takes on different, more interpersonal meaning when it comes from someone you can relate to; a peer, a friend."

Since the "Only Skin Deep?" program launched last year, various melanoma foundations, schools, and even the AAD have expressed interest in utilizing it in their communities.

"I have been working on identifying the best method of making this program readily accessible to anyone interested utilizing, even universities that want to incorporate skin cancer prevention as part of their academic curricula; I wanted to evaluate the program and figure out ways to enhance it first so as to make it a truly valuable and effective tool," White says.

That said, The Cancer Crusaders Organization announces that the program will be made available in 2008. White's first book - ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Programs and Resources was published this Spring and debuted #2 on Amazon.com.

"While the new, revamped version of our original peer educator's training program won't debut until the beginning of next year, we invite people to take part in it now," White says. "We still have the original manual that students can use. In fact, a teenager--a pageant contestant, in Arkansas is currently participating [through] using the original course manual and materials."

Students interested in participating in the original paper course version of White's peer education program are encouraged to contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization. To learn more about White's recent book, or to pre-order copies of her upcoming book, featuring the program, you can send an email to info@cancercrusaders.org.

For more information, or to send a tax-deductible donation, please contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization at: PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maximizing Sunscreen Efficacy

What if you could be armed with an invisible force field that would protect you and your loved ones from any unseen dangers and harm? Sounds good, right? To have a secure way of ensuring you and your loved ones are safe all day, every day, would definitely be ideal. What if I told you that your search for this invisible bulletproof vest has been right under your nose and that you can get it at your favorite dermatologist’s office? That lifesaving product is none other than sunscreen.

Sunscreen, when used properly, works much akin to a coat of armor; an almost invisible bulletproof vest that contains organic molecules that absorb, scatter and reflect ultraviolet radiation, thus protecting you and your family members from a silent killer called the sun. Over-exposure to UV rays means a significantly heightened risk for skin cancer, which is the commonly diagnosed cancer in the world and, yet, the most preventable.

Two decades ago, sunscreen was relatively unheard of, whereas today it is part of our common jargon. Increased awareness of skin cancer and the importance of sunscreen, even sun protective clothing have, in ways, only further confused us and perhaps even caused us to ignore the warnings. Have you ever wondered why there have been occasions when you slapped on a pound of SPF 45 before hitting the beach only return home burnt to a crisp? The problem is, we are told to use sunscreen but aren’t being instructed on how to properly apply it; to maximize its efficacy.
Unlike a bulletproof vest, however, sunscreen must be re-applied in order for it to properly provide protection from ultraviolet radiation. Consider the 30-20-2 rule: Apply an SPF 15+ sunscreen on at least 30-minutes prior to going outdoors—even on cloudy and cold days, reapply it within the first 20-minutes of being outside, and then reapply consistently in two hour intervals. (For children under 18, sunscreen must be applied every hour). The reason sunscreen works this way is based on the mechanics of our skin.

As we learned in the beginning of this course, our skin works much how a sponge does. The top layer, the epidermis, absorbs sunscreen, forming a protective layer on top of the skin that blocks UV rays from reaching the melanocytes that lie deep within the skin. Yet, your skin reaches its saturation point after approximately two hours, thus leaving you unprotected from ultraviolet exposure and causing sunburn and/or other skin-related damage. Hence, it is imperative that a broad-spectrum sunscreen be reapplied in order to maximize its protective powers.

Alas, not all sunscreen products out on the market today work proficiently. To deliver optimum level of protection, a sunscreen must have sufficient quantities of essential ingredients. In other words, when choosing the best sunscreen product for your family, take a look at the bottle— You will want to make sure it contains proven effective agents such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. (Preferably, a minimum 5% of both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide). Furthermore, make sure the product is a broad-spectrum formula, meaning that it blocks both UV-B and UV-A rays. If the sunscreen is not broad-spectrum, do not buy it! You are not being sufficiently protected or covered.

The significance of a broad-spectrum sunscreen cannot be over-emphasized. UV-B and UV-A rays have varied affects on your skin, your immune system, and your body as a whole. UV-B irradiation disrupts the melanocytes, causing them to release the redness known as sunburn. Any change in the color of your skin as a result of over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation is damage to your skin, even if your skin tends to tan as opposed to burn. Any change in your skin pigmentation is your melanocytes way of telling you that normal, healthy cells have been severely disrupted and, thus, they are trying to compensate for the damage they have sustained (but photo damage from ultraviolet radiation is un-repairable). On the other hand, damage to your skin caused by UV-A irradiation is far more serious. UV-A rays are especially harmful as they penetrate deep beneath your epidermis, into the layer underneath known as the dermis. Typically, the immediate affects of UV-A rays are not visible, but they are the chief culprit behind photo-aging and wrinkling. Have you ever left basketball outside in the hot summer sun for a lengthy period of time? Then, when you went to retrieve the ball, you almost immediately notice that the elasticity of the ball has weakened. The ball feels almost as if it has melted and never quite bounces back. This is exactly what happens to your skin as a result of prolonged UV-A exposure. Both UV-B and UV-A rays have cumulative affects and coupled together can lead to skin cancer. Ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen that adversely damaging affects on a variety of biological systems.

Thusly, make sure you understand SPF when purchasing a brand of sunscreen, and do not be fooled by those that claim to deliver a high level of protection. For starters, SPF stands for sun protection factor (or sunburn protection factor). The way SPF works can be best described by the following example:

A SPF 20 sunscreen is only allowing five out of every 100 UV protons to reach your skin. In other words, it is protecting you from an estimated 95% of UV rays. Therefore it is strongly recommended that a minimum SPF 15 sunscreen be used year-round. Yet, if you are planning a long, leisurely day at the lake or even a marathon day on the ski slopes, up your sunscreen to a SPF 30 and be sure to apply the 30-20-2 rule so as to prevent a painful reminder of your day of recreation. It is noteworthy to mention that, according to the American Cancer Society, 60% of Americans suffered [at least] one severe blistering sunburn last year as a result of improper sunscreen application and use. Could this lack of proper sun safety be contributing to the ever-increasing skin cancer incidence? How many skin cancers could be avoided if we were to only properly use a SPF 30 broad-spectrum sunscreen? Certainly the world’s most common cancer can be prevented if we are more proactive about properly protecting ourselves with adequate sunscreen. Would the crusaders of old leave their homes to face a battle without being adequately armed with protection or equipped with the proper weapons to defend themselves from the enemy at-hand? Of course not! So, be sure to properly and regularly apply sunscreen to your skin. After all, a well-made sunscreen is the closest to a bulletproof vest we have against a growing epidemic—skin cancer.

To learn more about sunscreens, check out ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources.

Be SunSavvy,

PS: Blue Lizard is my personal favorite. Check it out and see for yourself.

A Call for Entries

The summer heat is on, and that means a need for increased awareness for the world’s most common cancer—skin cancer.

While riding on the coat tails of her recently released book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, author and co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization, Danielle M. White, invites all budding writers to participate in an essay contest for Skin Cancer Awareness.

“Skin cancer incidence in the U.S., and across the globe, continues to rise at an alarming rate,” White says. “In fact, melanoma is killing more women ages 20-39 than any other cancer. Yet, this disease is preventable!” White continues, “In our on-going effort to raise awareness and educate people—especially young adults—about skin cancer, we thought an essay contest would be a great way to generate interest and participation, as well as provide further educational opportunities to our communities.”

White, who is currently working on a revision of her original peer education program which made its official debut last summer, and has piqued the interest of the American Academy of Dermatology, is planning to feature at least one of the winning essays in her next book – Preventing the Most Preventable Cancer, which will feature the peer education program, is due out early 2008.

“Part of finding effective ways of teaching young adults about skin cancer, and recruiting their participating in awareness efforts, is reaching out to them and finding out what interests them most,” White says. “How can we effectively teach a 15-year-old or a 25-year-old if we don’t know what they know? Not only will this essay contest be a great tool for community outreach, but it will give us all here at The Cancer Crusaders Organization insight into the unique and specific educational needs of this target public. In turn, we can better serve them.” White adds that occasionally dermatologists, though they are the experts in skin cancer prevention, forget what youth want and need to know about skin cancer. “That is my job as a skin cancer educator; to be the bridge between the dermatologists and the communities and find out how to teach young adults in a way that is meaningful to them; to personalize the message and bring it close to home,” she says.

And part of bringing that message close to home is hosting an essay contest.

“We encourage everyone to participate, particularly the 15 to 30-year-olds,” says White. “We are looking for essays that discuss issues related to the increased popularity of tanning in our culture and how that has contributed to rising skin cancer incidence over the last century. We are also looking for essays that will provide possible solutions for increasing awareness and improving skin cancer prevention education.”

To participate in the Preventing the Most Preventable Cancer essay contest, please follow the rules and guidelines as follows:

• Essay must be original work (no previously published essays, please). Plagiarism will not be tolerated and will disqualify your entry.
• Essay should be in MLA format, complete a Works Cited, proper citations, and a cover sheet.
• Essay should not exceed 1,000 words in length (maximum) and should be at least 500 words (minimum).
• No offensive language or potentially libelous information will be accepted.
• Good grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Writers should properly employ the rules of technical writing.
• Please include your first and last name, age, hometown, school (if appropriate), and email in the top right-hand corner of the first page. (Please be sure to include your mailing address when submitting your essay).
• Please submit your essay, and your $15.00 tax-deductible entry fee by September 7, 2007 to the following:
The Cancer Crusaders Organization
P.O. Box 2076 Provo, Utah 84603

The Cancer Crusaders Organization will choose three winning essays; one from each of the following age groups: 15-19, 20-30, and 31+. The winners will receive Skin Cancer Awareness merchandise, a bottle of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, and a complimentary copy of White’s recent book – ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources now available online through Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The first place winner will also receive a cash scholarship, and their essay will be featured in White’s next book.

For more information and/or for sponsorship opportunities, please contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization.


PS: Check out what a registered nurse had to say about the essay contest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Price of a Tan

I can still remember the thick air of disdain that oozed from her email -

"I don't go tanning anymore, Danielle! Are you happy? You convinced me that it's dangerous. After listening to you (and Natalie) talk about it for the past four years I have realized that it's dangerous, and so I only use sunless tanning foams now. I hope that makes you happy. Love, Erika."

I can also remember the profound sense of relief (and, yes, satisfaction) that I felt knowing that one of my close friends/former pageant girls made the decision--for herself--to discontinue the use of tanning beds. Erika has known about the dangers of tanning for years now. She has heard our friend Natalie, a former Miss Utah, talk about it many times. She has heard me "preach" about it almost incessantly. Yet, it was a decision that she had to make. "I finally realize that it's just not worth the risk," she says. "So, I use the sunless tanners now instead."

Indeed, tanning comes with a heavy price. Whoever coined the phrase beauty is pain, clearly never met anyone who has battled melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Let me introduce you to several women who, like many young women today had a long-standing love affair with the sun and tanning beds, have battled malignant melanoma.

The melanoma warrior who stands out most in my mind is Robin Lawrence. As a farmer's daughter, she spent many days out in sun working the fields growing up in Evansville, Indiana. As a teenager, Robin was a fan of using Baby Oil and iodine to achieve a darker, crisper shade of brown. "I seized every opportunity to be in the sun and work on my tan," she says. Then, Robin took an interest in body building. "A tan was an important part of professional body building," Robin says. So, she began frequenting tanning beds throughout her 20s. That is, until she was diagnosed with melanoma. Since March 2002, Robin has had nearly 200 suspicious moles and lesions removed from her skin and has battled malignant melanoma five times. "Every day, I live in fear that the next one is going to get me [...] I worry that I won't see my daughter graduate from high school. It's that constant fear that motivates me to teach other young people about the very real dangers of tanning and melanoma," she says. (Read more about Robin's story in ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources).

Like Robin, Shonda Shilling (pictured above) the wife of baseball star Curt Shilling and a young mother of four, was also a fan of "soaking up the almost unfiltered rays of the Arizona sun." Since January 1999, Shonda has six melanomas removed. "I had told myself very early on that people DO DIE from this, but grasping that was much harder since this was a personal struggle," Shonda says. "I [have] received letter upon letter from people around the world that had fought this [disease] horribly. Since my original diagnosis I have had two Stage II melanomas, and four melanoma incitus removed from my back, chest, legs and arms in five different surgeries. I also became aware that Arizona has the highest melanoma rate in this U.S." As such, Shonda has now been a prominent figure in the skin cancer community, teaching youngsters about sun safety.

And there is Brittany Lietz, Miss Maryland 2006, who was first diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 20. "I have a white scar that runs across the back of my right rib cage that reminds me," Brittany says. "I want to warn others my age that the price of a tan is too high when you put yourself in harm's way." Since Brittany's initial diagnosis with melanoma a couple of years ago, she has had more than 20 suspicious moles removed. "To me, being tan is not worth losing my life over," she said. "I'm going to be pale and that's who I am," she says. "The price of a tan is just too high."

Fortunately, these three women won their battle with the "Black Tumor." Yet, many others have been taken from us. There is Charlie Guild, Colette Coyne, and Jaime Regen Rea - all in their 20s when melanoma robbed them of their bright futures. And there is Eric Johnson, (my friend Natalie's brother), who, at age 21, passed away just two months after his initial diagnosis. Eric had just returned home from serving a mission for his church when he was diagnosed with melanoma. And he had a full four-year college scholarship waiting for him. "He didn't even have a chance to fight", Natalie says. (You can also read more about Natalie in my book).

Every hour (68-minutes), melanoma takes another person -- a friend, a brother, a mother. This both baffles me and disturbs me greatly. While there are various deadly diseases that we can do very little to prevent, melanoma is largely preventable. It is irresponsible for us to assume that the use of tanning beds does not pose a very real and serious threat to people, especially our young adults; to say that the tanning is not dangerous when it emits ultraviolet radiation which is a known carcinogen is to say that melanoma is not a serious health concern. And if melanoma is not a serious health concern, then why does it kill more women ages 20-39 in America than any other disease? Why does melanoma kill about 24 people a day here in the U.S.?

Tanning is a dangerous. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation is linked to an increased risk for melanoma. That said, if we can prevent 90-95% of the melanomas diagnosed than I think we have a responsibility - not to mention an obligation - to protect people from it. Melanoma is deadly, but it is preventable. So, let us protect people, particularly our young adults, from it. As the Hippocratic oath states, we have an obligation to do no harm. Thusly, if we can eliminate (or reduce) danger to save a life then we, as humans, ought to...

After all, as Brittany said, the price is simply too high. Being a 20-something woman myself - every time I hear of another 20-something dying, it makes me wonder is a tan to die for? And I quickly realize that the answer is a reverberating NO!

* The photo above is used with permission of the SHADE Foundation and Glamor Magazine

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Truth about Tanning - An introduction

Each day I surf the net for the latest news on skin cancer; to check out skin cancer-related sites and publications, to see the status of my book - ONLY SKIN DEEP?, and keep my finger on the pulse of all things skin cancer/dermatology. After all, how can effectively educate others about the world's most common preventable cancer, if I am not continuously abreast of the latest developments, right? Right.

So today, while doing research I was stunned to find a disturbing website maintained by a doctor who claims that tanning is healthy--and natural. I nearly fell out of my chair in shock and dismay. The real truth is that there is no such thing as a safe tan from the sun or from tanning beds. A tan is a sign of cell damage; the melanocytes in your skin (the cells responsible for pigmentation) are trying to repair the damage sustained by UV exposure. Yet, ultraviolet damage is un-repairable. And, we all know that damage to DNA poses a heightened risk for cancer--even melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

That said, I am posting an article that I wrote last year about the dangers of tanning. (I will be devoting several posts to the subject of tanning).

The Truth About Tanning - An Introduction

It is official. Spring has sprung, bringing along with it spring fever. I can see it in my students' eyes. They are practically breaking out in hives itching to soak up the warm spring sun, despite the fact they are sitting in a class that discusses skin cancer prevention.

Alas, despite their instructor's desperate pleadings, these 20-something-year-old college students find it difficult, if not arduous, to forgo their so-called need to tan that Hollywood constantly feeds and propagates. And while it is scientifically impossible for anyone to get a safe tan from tanning beds and other forms of ultraviolet radiation, there are several high-quality sunless tanning mousses that not only achieve that coveted bronze look, naturally, but also provide essential sun protection. Now my students, even my pageant girls, can have the best of both worlds.

They no longer have to walk into class with guilt-ridden faces knowing they have completely disregarded the very real dangers associated with using tanning beds. They are happy and healthy. And that makes this skin cancer crusader, happy.

Yet, despite the fact I am slowly replacing their love for tanning with a safe alternative -- sunless tanning foams such as those developed and manufactured by Neostrata (which garnered a prestigious Gold Triangle Award from the American Academy of Dermatology), there remains a deeply pressing concern; a lingering question. How do we, as skin cancer educators, effectively tackle the culture of tanning, and thus significantly reduce the alarming increase in skin cancer incidence and mortality as a result of frequenting tanning salons?

The bottom-line is that there is no such thing as a safe tan. Any tan is damage to your skin. And that is a fact. The Indoor Tanning Association (ITA) would have the consumer-driven pop culture hold to the myth that tanning beds are safe, and are even a viable way of treating a variety of skin issues such as acne, or even Seasonal Affective Disorder. Such claims are false, even irresponsible and potentially deadly, and credible scientific research proves it. There is no way to achieve a safe, healthy tan from tanning beds or other sources of ultraviolet radiation.

Consider the following:

The American Academy of Dermatology, in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently conducted a lengthy and independent research study which sheds some light on this issue, thus proving valuable insight into a media-inundated industry wrought with misleading, confusing, and even erroneous claims about tanning. They discovered, through numerous surveys, that more than 61% of women 18 and older (and 69% of men) equate a tan with beauty and health .

"Despite the fact that we know that there is no such thing as a safe tan, people still associate bronzed skin with beauty and health," said Dr. Darrel S. Rigel, clinical professor at New York University Medical Center. "What's even more surprising is that the survey showed that 62 % of men and women responded that they know someone who has or had skin cancer, which depending on its location and severity does nothing to improve your looks and can be very detrimental to your health."

Dr. Elizabeth Whitmore, who, like Dr. Rigel, is a member of the AAD, agrees. "People continue to invest both time and money into visiting tanning salons despite evidence which have found an increased incidence of melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer in those who visit indoor tanning salons." Joyce Ayoub, director of public information at the Skin Cancer Foundation further attests to this fact. "There is a myth that people like to believe, but it is a myth; not fact. Any tan means damage to the skin."

Further illustrating this point is a study headed by a team of scientists and researchers at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. These researchers discovered that the use of tanning beds and artificial tanning light sources even just once, can, indeed, lead to molecular changes in the skin that may lead to cancer. "In comparing the effects of a teenager who was exposed for the first dose of tanning beds to multiple doses it is evident that there is damage sustained to the molecular structure of the skin even having only been exposed once," Whitmore says.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins, who conducted the study of 10 teenagers who were exposed to full-body tanning beds over a period of two weeks, found that the subjects' skin and blood, (which was carefully analyzed both prior to the UV exposure and after the exposure) had two distinct markers that indicated molecular change.

Whitmore adds, "It's another indication that there is biologic activity and that there is cell damage when the skin is exposed to UV rays. This repair process can eventually fail to do its job completely or correctly causing the cells to replicate abnormally [...] this breakdown in the normal functioning of cells can lead to malignant cancer."

In actual fact, the AAD asserts that nearly 90% of skin carcinomas are a result of over-exposure to UV rays.

Recently, The Cancer Crusaders Organization randomly surveyed 500 college-aged students in Utah, Massachusetts, and Tennessee (18-to-25), and found that nearly 100% reported to having used a tanning bed at least once in their lifetime.

After having been apprised of the risks and dangers associated with tanning, many were undeterred. "Not only does tanning help my acne, it helps me a lot during this time of year when there's a great deal of pressure with upcoming finals and during the stresses of the holidays," says Amanda, a senior Brigham Young University. "Even though, I am aware of the dangers of tanning, there is still that temptation; I haven't stopped using tanning beds and I never use sunscreens."

The significance protecting your skin from the harmful affects of UV-B and UV-A rays goes almost without saying; however, I emphasize it emphatically to both my students and especially to my pageant contestants. UV-B and UV-A rays have varied affects on your skin, your immune system, and your body as a whole. UV irradiation disrupts the melanocytes, causing them to release the redness known as sunburn. Any change in the color of your skin as a result of over-exposure to the sun is damage to your skin, even if your skin tends to "tan" as opposed to burn.

All changes in the color of your skin as a result of UV exposure is the melanocytes trying to tell you that normal, healthy cells have been severely disrupted. Have you ever left basketball outside in the hot summer sun for a lengthy period of time? And after you retrieved the ball, you immediately notice that the elasticity of the ball is weakened it feels rubbery and never quite bounces back? This is exactly what happens to your skin as a result of prolonged UV exposure. Both UV-B and UV-A rays have cumulative effects and coupled together can lead to melanoma skin cancer.

In sum, if you must heed the need to be golden, opt for sunless tanning mousses. There are quality dermatologically-approved sunless tanning mousses available that are reasonably priced, and will give you evenly distributed color, but will do it without the harmful affects of UV-rays. Now you can have the best of both worlds -- good looks and good health.

So, there you have it - there is no such thing as a safe tan from a tanning bed or from the sun. Stayed tuned for my next post on the dangers of tanning. In the meantime, I invite you to do research more about the science of tanning and skin cancer, by visiting the official Web-site of the American Academy of Dermatology at www.aad.org.

Be SunSavvy,

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Skinny on Skin Cancer

Often times, when teaching a classroom filled with high school/college students someone will say something to the effect of "But no one really dies from skin cancer" or "Tanning isn't a big deal - it's just hype."

This never ceases to shock me. In fact, comments such as these scare me; it is a stark reminder that I have my work cut out for me when it comes to teaching youth about skin cancer prevention.

With it being summer, many folks are soaking up the sun trying to achieve a coveted shade of bronze; however, before you do here are a few facts to consider. Perhaps, you will think twice before going outside without being armed with ample amounts of sunscreen. I hope, too, that you will make a commitment to forgo the tanning beds.

2007 Skin Cancer Facts and Figures

• More than half of all new cancers diagnosed are skin cancers.
* Every five minutes another woman in the U.S. is diagnosed with skin cancer.
• More than 1.3-million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year.
• About 79% of new skin cancer cases will be basal cell carcinoma; 16% will be squamous cell carcinoma; 5% will be melanoma—the deadliest form.
• Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinomas are 95% curable if detected in their early stages.
• An estimated 10,590 people in the United States will die of skin cancer this year; more than 8,000 from melanoma and 2,820 from other skin cancers (such as Merkel cell).
• There will be about 106,000 new cases of melanoma this year – 46,170 in situ (non-invasive) and 59,580 invasive (33,580 men and 26,000women). This is a 10% percent increase in new cases of melanoma from 2004.
• One person dies of melanoma every hour (68-minutes).
• The incidence rate of melanoma more than tripled among Caucasians between 1980 and 2003.
• More than 75% of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma.
• Melanoma is more common than any other cancer among women between 25 and 29-years-old. (Take, for instance, Colette Coyne, pictured above).
• 1 in 5 Americans will develop some from of skin cancer during their lifetime. (1 in 3 Caucasians will develop skin cancer in their lifetime).
• Five or more sunburns doubles your risk for skin cancer.
• More than 90% of all skin cancers are caused by sun exposure.
• The majority of people diagnosed with melanoma are white men over age 50.
• Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among men over the age 50, exceeding prostate, lung and colon cancer.
• Men over age 40 spend the most time outdoors and have the highest amount of annual exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
• Melanoma is the third most common cancer in women aged 20 to 39.
• The percentage of women under age 40 with basal cell carcinoma has tripled in the last thirty years, while their rate of squamous cell cancer has increased four-fold.


• Approximately 59,940 melanomas will be diagnosed this year, with nearly 8,110 resulting in death.
• More than 20 people die each day from skin cancer, primarily melanoma.
• 1 in 59 men and women will be diagnosed with melanoma during their lifetime.
• One blistering sunburn in childhood more than doubles a person's chances of developing melanoma later in life.
• While melanoma is fairly uncommon in African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians, it is most deadly for these populations because it is more likely to develop undetected.
• After melanoma has spread, the survival rate falls to between 15 and 65%, depending on how far the disease has spread.
• The cost of melanoma in the United States is more than $740 million annually.

Teens and Tanning

• Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a proven human carcinogen (cancer-causing), according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
• Exposure to tanning beds before age 35 increases melanoma risk by 75%.
• Nearly 30 million people in the U.S. use indoor tanning facilities; 2.3 million of them are youth under the age of 18.
• On an average day in the United States, more than 1 million people tan in tanning salons; 70% are Caucasian women between the ages of 16 and 49.
• People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
• Even occasional use of tanning beds almost triples the chances of developing melanoma.
• New high-pressure sunlamps do, in fact, emit ultraviolet radiation that can be as much as 15 times that of the sun.
• The indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion annually.
• An estimated 90% of the visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by the sun. These changes can be seen in the late teens and early 20s.

Skin cancer may be the most commonly diagnosed cancer, but it is also the most PREVENTABLE! Make a commitment - here and now - to protect yourself, and those you love, from skin cancer. And, please take a few moments to participate in the polls located to the left of your screen. Thank you!

Yours in the fight,

Learn more about skin cancer (and read more stories like Colette's) in ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Show you Care!

While national Skin Cancer Awareness month may have already passed (it is in May), rallying support for the cause is a year-round endeavor.

So, help us spread the word and save lives by showing you care. There are a variety of ways to become involved with skin cancer prevention education. You can volunteer with your local melanoma foundation (a list of them is provided for you in my book - ONLY SKIN DEEP?. You can make a charitable donation. You can also show you care by sporting your Skin Cancer Awareness pin (or hat) which features the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol.

When we first incorporated The Cancer Crusaders Organization in 2004, the ribbon was still relatively new and very few people knew about it. Today, we have introduced the ribbon to more than 300,000,000 across the globe. Yet, we not only want to introduce people to the ribbon; rather, rally their support and recruit their participation in skin cancer prevention education efforts.

Did you know? Every hour another person dies from melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer. Yet, skin cancer is 90-95% preventable. Help us raise awareness by showing you you care.

Yours in the fight,

PS: I would enjoy seeing photos of you sporting the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol. The top three best photos will receive a complimentary, autographed copy of my book - ONLY SKIN DEEP? Please send your photos to me at info@cancercrusaders.org by August 1st.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's in the Works

It's in the works, folks!

Many of my friends and peers have been asking me to write a book about my personal experiences with cancer; about losing my mother at age 15, and my experiences working with the cancer community. I have been making an earnest effort to work on this book, but truth be told - I am not quite ready for it....yet. I am hoping to revisit that project next year, but we'll see. I am not making any guarantees about it, though.

On a brighter note, however, I have contracted to do another book. It will feature the peer education curriculum that I developed for youth and will officially debut in early 2008. So, while my friends may be disappointed, my fellow skin cancer crusaders will be delighted to hear that I am finally making this program available to the masses via a book entitled Preventing the Most Preventable Cancer: Training Youth to Teach their Peers about Skin Cancer Prevention.

I first introduced my peer education program in 2006 through a pilot program called ONLY SKIN DEEP? (which is, incidentally the title of my first book). With six volunteer college students as my "lab rats", and several thousand listeners tuning in each week to hear me teach it via internet radio, many skin cancer education organizations - including the American Academy of Dermatology - have taken a sincere interest. I have been spinning my wheels trying to determine which method and through which avenue would be best to make this program available to these organizations, as well as universities, but kept encountering roadblocks thus delaying the project. So, what does a skin cancer crusader with extremely limited funds do to make it all happen - she keeps plugging (and she gets creative). With that, I am proud to announce that, at long last, I have found two methods that I think will behoove all those interested in utilizing the program to teach youth about skin cancer. The first avenue of delivery is through book #2 (and don't worry my students won't do the copy editing, again! HA!)

If you have any questions about skin cancer, sun safety, and teaching youth, that you would like to see addressed in this book, please feel free to email me! And if you have stories about working with the skin cancer community that you would like to share, I would love to hear those, as well. We also welcome sponsors who are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to us better serve the community.

In the meantime, I hope you will grab a copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. All the proceeds will go to funding the continued development of effective skin cancer education programs for youth.

Happy Reading!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

Sunburn Rates Going Up

I spent the Fourth of July with my good friend/former room-mate Jenny and her wonderful family. Everyone enjoyed a SunSavvy holiday; our little parade-going, barbequeing, and fireworks-watching group was lathered up in sunscreen, and several of them talked about different parts of the Only Skin Deep? book. (People are actually reading the book! How wonderful!) Many of them were talking about what they learned about sunscreens, and why some people burn easily whereas others tan. We had several discussions about how the sun is so intense here in Utah. It is always so nice when people ask me questions about skin cancer and sun protection. I never tire of the almost-incessant "preaching" about sun safety. The fact that skin cancer is so preventable - 95% preventable - is a message of hope. And to be bring people a positive, and extremely pertinent message is not only a responsibility that I take very seriously but is a privilege and a blessing. Each discussion, each article, each message - we are saving lives from a very preventable disease. (Though, Jenny probably wishes that I wouldn't talk about it all the time, even at her family gatherings).

Speaking of preventing sunburns, I received an email from the Utah Cancer Control Program that stated more Americans are getting sunburnt than ever before. And, much to my dismay, Utah ranks second (next to the U.S. Virgin Islands) in the number of people who get sunburnt every year (and how often).

I wish that the report indicated the reasons why more people are getting sunburnt. Is is because people fail to apply sunscreen? Is it because nearly all the sunscreens at the grocery store fail to provide sufficient sun protection? Is it because people aren't being educated about proper application, and reapplication, of sunscreen?

Interestingly, high-risk states* such as Texas, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida, ranked lower on the list. In fact, Arizona has fewer people get sunburnt than any other state in the country. This is amazing considering the fact that there are more than 300 days of sunshine in Arizona. It would appear the sun safety education programs in Arizona are making a profound impact.

Alas, Utahns are still "not getting it" when it comes to proper, year-round sunscreen use. While I continue to distribute sunscreen samples out as if they were candy, I have my work cut out for me. I a lot of work to do in educating people, especially young adults and families in Utah, about sun safety. Occasionally, I wonder what's it going to take? Do you have to lose your 21-year-old brother, like my dear friend/co-founder Natalie Johnson-Hatch did? Do you have to face melanoma as a young mother like my colleagues Robin Lawrence, Lisa Chase, Catherine Poole, and Shonda Schilling did? What's it going to take for people to recognize the importance of proper sun protection? Is it that it's just too simple? The fact that skin cancer is so preventable, people think that it must not be a serious and potentially deadly disease - is that it? As I teach skin cancer prevention, I am also learning. I'm still thinking, still pondering, still searching, and still praying for insights and answers - what can I do to positively impact the community, and save lives from this unnecessary yet very real epidemic?

To learn more about what you can to protect yourself from skin cancer, how to find an effective sunscreen, and about programs available in your area, pick up your copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. You will learn valuable tools about reducing your risk for skin cancer, and support the cause!

I also invite you to contact me for a complimentary sample of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen -- the best stuff on the planet, in my book. (no pun intended).

Be SunSavvy,

The Cancer Crusaders Organization
PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603

* high-risk meaning that residents are at a higher risk for skin cancer due to environmental factors such as days of sunshine, higher land elevation, etc.