Stop tanning and sunbathing: Is that realistic? - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Stop tanning and sunbathing: Is that realistic?

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - The U.S. Surgeon General is calling for people to stop tanning and sunbathing. The number of people diagnosed with the deadliest form of skin cancer, melanoma, has increased more than 200 percent since the 1970s.

The Surgeon General is saying that tanned skin is damaged skin, but a lot of people feel some color gives them a healthy glow.

So how realistic is it that people will stop tanning? That depends on who you ask.

When Leslie VanBogart was just 19 she had a real scare.

"I tanned everyday because we got that nice little perk, and at 19 I had basal cell removed twice," said VanBogart.

She's just glad it wasn't a more deadly form of skin cancer, like melanoma, which is increasing in such high numbers that the U.S. Surgeon general is calling for people to stop tanning and sunbathing and other doctors agree.

"These are behaviors that we can change," said Vincent Reid, Surgical Oncologist at Mercy Medical Center's Hall-Perrine Cancer Center. "Whenever we can change a behavior to impact a serious situation such as cancer, I think you should stop, think, and listen."

In Iowa, state law requires warning signs and limits how much people can tan indoors.

At Indulge Sun Spa employees say it's really up to the customer to follow all those rules.

"We can't go back there with you to make sure so as long as you got your eye-wear and you know the precautions," said Mara Chamberlain, Indulge Sun Spa employee.

The teenage employee says being tan makes her feel confident.

Doctors hope to change the perception that tan is beautiful.

"Many many years ago if someone said to you is there anything we can do to impact the trend of smoking in North America, people would have said no," said Reid. "But there have been significant impacts through various educational forums and means so I remain very, very optimistic."

But, even VanBogart still wants to see some color. These days, she runs a Your Tanning Bar, an airbrush only facility.

In this call for action, the Surgeon General also says people should stop sunbathing outdoors. Another goal: increase opportunities for sun protection in outdoor settings.

A majority of melanoma cases are not linked to indoor tanning but the Surgeon General's office says the tanning bed cases are easier to prevent.
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