Scarlett W. Ultraviolet radiation: sun exposure, tanning beds, and vitamin D levels. What you need to know and how to decrease the risk of skin cancer. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2003;103(8):371–375. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2003.103.8.371.
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This year, more than one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and an estimated 9800 individuals will die of the disease. Despite recent public education efforts and increased public awareness about the importance of the use of sunscreen and avoidance of ultraviolet radiation, the incidence of melanoma has more than tripled among white Americans from 1980 to 2001. This increase in cancer rates means that one person dies of melanoma in this country every hour of every day. The answer to this increasing problem is not a simple one, but public education seems to be a common starting point. The American Cancer Society and the American Academy of Dermatology have published recommendations with regard to sun exposure and sunscreen use. However, patients often ask questions that are not as easily answered. Questions such as, Which sunscreens are the safest? Are tanning beds safe? If I limit my sun exposure, do I need to take vitamin D supplements? If I tanned as a teenager, is the damage already done? How do I treat sunburn? This article provides a review of the current literature regarding these issues and provides the facts family physicians need to answer common patient questions. The author discusses the mechanisms of sun damage, the facts on tanning beds, and the importance of supplementing vitamin D.
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