Summer 2010 Vol. 2, No. 4
Topic of the Quarter: Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 1 million people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer annually. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s surveillance programs, 53,919 people were diagnosed in 2006 with melanoma, the most invasive and deadly form of skin cancer, and 8,441 people died from it.
The estimated annual direct and indirect cost of skin cancer is $5.6 billion. Between 65
percent and 90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light, invisible radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and sunlamps. Anyone can have skin cancer, but risk is higher for people with a lighter natural skin color that burns or reddens easily, who are exposed to the sun through work or play, or who have a personal history of skin cancer or family history of melanoma. Rates of skin cancer have been rising, particularly among women ages 15 to 39, but skin cancer is more common among men.
Most cases of skin cancer can be prevented with proper use of sunscreen and protective clothing. Protection from UV light is especially important for children and adolescents; even one blistering sunburn in childhood can double the risk for melanoma. High-risk UV exposure—such as unprotected peak hour sun exposure or in tanning beds—occurs more commonly in children and teens who usually are not aware of the potential harm.
Numerous health organizations and agencies—including the American Cancer Society and the Environmental Protection Agency— promote skin cancer prevention and sun education programs, including the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!, and Sun Wise programs. Some states require public schools to include SunWise or other sun safety programs in their curriculums and also provide education for public and outdoor workers.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies typical use of UV-emitting tanning devices as “carcinogenic to humans,” equivalent to sun exposure. Other research suggests that intense UV light exposure may increase one’s relative risk of skin cancer by 75 percent. At least 31 states have banned or limited the use of indoor tanning beds and similar devices by anyone under age 18 without a parent’s permission, or, in some states, a doctor’s note; lax enforcement may allow the practice to continue.
Other recent developments include a 1.1 percent tax on tanning services in the Federal Affordable Care Act. The Food and Drug Administration recently considered reclassifying tanning beds as a carcinogen and possible additional restrictions on access to tanning beds by minors.
Upcoming Events and NCSL Resources
Legislative Summit, July 25-28, 2010, Louisville, KY The NCSL Legislative Summit brings together state lawmakers, legislative staff and national policy experts from across the country who converge to share ideas, best practices and strategies. Keynote speakers include U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, former Florida governor Jeb Bush and pollsters Peter Hart and Neil Newhouse.
NCSL can provide testimony to legislatures on preventing injuries and violence; reducing health disparities; the uninsured and access to health care; issues related to community health centers; chronic disease-related issues; health promotion; and other health policy topics. Contact Alise Garcia at Healthemail@example.com.
Resources on Skin Cancer
CDC, Indoor Tanning Association, The Skin Cancer Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society
Public Health Menu Page
Tanning Restrictions for Minors
Cancer Data, Trends and Policy
Chronic Disease Menu Page
Reducing Skin Cancer Risks
In the News
Tanning Salons: More Heat? - Health officials in New York are ramping up regulation of more than 2,000 tanning salons and gyms as health advocates push for a law banning exposure to indoor ultraviolet rays by anyone under 18.
FDA Panel Weighs New Restrictions on Tanning Beds - An article in Health Day looks at an FDA panel that is tasked with determining if the FDA should put new restrictions on tanning beds.
Prevalence of Selected Unhealthy Behavior-Related Characteristics Among Adults Aged ≥18 Years, by Poverty Status - In June 2010, the CDC released a "QuickStats" report in its Morbitity and Mortality Weekly publication. It includes a chart of the prevalence of unhealthy behaviors - such as cigarette smoking, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption- by poverty status.
F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2010 - The Trust for America's Health and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation released this report in June 2010. It identifies actions that the federal government and many states are taking to address the epidemic and recommends specific strategies to accelerate momentum.
CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention's new Data Trends and Maps - The CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention launched its new Data Trends and Maps web site. This national surveillance system tracks cardiovascular disease risk factors, prevention programs and policies across the country.
Executive Order: Establishing the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council - On June 10, 2010, President Obama established the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, which is a provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The Council is charged with creating a National Prevention and Health Promotion Strategy. The Executive Order provides for the membership of the Council, the purpose and duties of the Council and reporting requirements.
School Policies and Practices to Improve Health and Prevent Obesity: National Elementary School Survey Results - A comprehensive study from Bridging the Gap and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows that the nation’s elementary schools serve meals that don’t meet current dietary guidelines and provide little time for physical activity.
Solving the Problem of Childhood Obesity Within a Generation - In May 2010, the Childhood Obesity Task Force (an interagency task force created by President Obama in February 2010) released its report and action plan for solving the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. Twelve Federal agencies participated actively in the Task Force and provided their ideas and expertise.
Reducing Sodium in the Food Supply - On April 21, 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a new report, Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States. This report provides recommendations about various ways to reduce dietary sodium intake to levels recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Health Affairs Highlights Key Research on Childhood Obesity - In its March 2010 issue, Health Affairs focused almost exclusively on the childhood obesity epidemic and effective policy approaches to address it.
Shortchanging America's Health - The Trust for America's Health released this report in March 2010, which finds that federal spending for public health has been flat for nearly five years, while states around the country cut nearly $392 million for public health programs in the past year. These cuts leave communities around the country struggling to deliver basic disease prevention and emergency health preparedness services.
US Surgeon General Releases Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010 - The US Surgeon General released this report in early 2010. It examines current obesity levels in the United States and provides prevention and wellness opportunities for all age groups.
Public Health Project Partner News
NCSL collaborates with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other national organizations—including the National Governors Association, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the Society for Public Health Education—on its public health project. Recent resources available from partner organizations on public health topics include the following.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its report State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2010. The State Indicator Report on Physical Activity, 2010, provides information on physical activity behavior and policy and environmental supports within each state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its report Tobacco Control and State Highlights 2010. This report provides state-specific data intended to: highlight how some states are reducing smoking rates using evidence-based strategies, enable readers to see how their own states perform and help policymakers with decision-making.
The CDC's Division of Adolescent and School-based Health have a report entitled The Association Between School-Based Physical Activity, Including Physical Education, and Academic Performance in April 2010. The report indicates that school-based physical activity may help improve students’ grades and test scores and positively affect other factors that influence academic achievement. The report also concludes that adding time during the school day for physical activity does not appear to hinder academic performance.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials released a Chronic Disease Prevention Toolkit. It contains publications, tools, and other resources related to chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Many of the tools resulted from collaboration among NACCHO's Chronic Disease Prevention Project, national organizations, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
The National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity released its National Physical Activity Plan on May 3, 2010. The plan represents the nation’s first comprehensive effort to increase physical activity. Initiated by the CDC and developed by numerous public and private organizations across the country, the plan provides a framework for policy leaders and organizational decision makers to support changes that will improve physical activity and health for all ages and abilities. The plan was released as part of "Moving America Day" at a national event at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
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