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From the desk of Senator Charles Fuschillo: May 9, 2012

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) announced that the New York State Senate has passed a legislative resolution designating May as “Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month” in New York State.

“Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but it is also one of the most treatable if it is detected early. Indoor tanning or even one bad sunburn can greatly increase the risk of developing skin cancer, which is why it’s so important for residents to be safe and get screened. With summer only a few short weeks away, now is the perfect time to remind residents about the importance of protecting themselves from skin cancer and being safe while in the sun,” said Senator Fuschillo.

Skin cancer is by far the most common of all cancer types, affecting individuals of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, according to the American Cancer Society. More than two million people are diagnosed with skin cancers in the U.S. each year.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following steps to help prevent skin cancer:

* Use sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends products with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Sunscreen should be applied as instructed on the product label. Check the product’s label to make sure it has not expired.

* Cover up in the sun. Wear as much clothing as possible to cover up exposed skin.

* Wear a hat. A hat with at least a two to three-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp that are often exposed to intense sun.

* Wear sunglasses that block UV rays. Check the label to make sure they block UVA & UVB radiation. “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” means the glasses block at least 99 percent of UV rays. Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70 percent of the UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any protection.

* Avoid being outdoors too long between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s UV rays are the strongest.

* Avoid using tanning beds and tanning lamps. These devices emit UVA rays, and often UVB rays, both of which can cause long-term skin damage and contribute to skin cancer. Most skin doctors and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps.

Senator Fuschillo has been a leader in the fight against skin cancer. He has sponsored free skin cancer screening programs and authored a state law banning children under the age of 14 from using indoor UV tanning devices.  Senator Fuschillo is also fighting to expand the law to prevent children under age 18 from using UV tanning devices.  Use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.