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E-M:/ Melanoma Doubles in Kids reports LSJ today


It's still one of the fastest growing cancers in the country (nearly 60,000 per year in U.S. now struck), but now it's doing what was previously thought not probable. . .striking children below age 8. See


It's a "disease of capitalism," in part, owing to the evisceration of the earth organ known as the ozone layer due to the addictive use of fossil fuels by the military/automotive/industrial/profit complex. The little bodies can be laid at the feet of those, like Bush and his ilk, fight Kyoto and promote combustion not precaution.

And, against the "common sense" spun by the $850 billion sunscreen/big Pharm industry, sunscreen is NOT the best defense.

See a recent piece of mine on this. . .

Melanoma Whitewash

Millions at Risk because of Sunscreen Deceptions,
Lack of Shaded Structures at Pools, Beaches, Playgrounds

Brian McKenna

Caught early there's no reason for a single person to die from melanoma.

So far it was caught early enough for John McCain, Troy Aikman, Clint Eastwood, and Sam Donaldson. But sadly it was not for Maureen Reagan, Bob Marley, and rising folk-musician star Eva Cassidy, gone at 33.

The black cells of melanoma struck about 53,000 in the U.S. in 2002. There were about 7,000 deaths from it that year. For the past twenty years melanoma has kept its status as one of the fastest growing and deadliest cancers in the world.

Although the exact causes of melonoma are complex, it is strongly related to exposure to ultraviolet radiation, type A (UVA), the long solar waves that travel beneath the skin's surface to damage melanocytes, the pigment making cells.

In contrast, UV-B light gives you sunburns and is a major contributor to the more easily curable basal and squamous cell skin cancers.

No problem, just lather on the white creamy sunscreen before taking to the beach and you are protected, right?

It turns out that sun care manufacturers - who made $863 million in 2001, according to. . . . - do not tell citizens the full truth about their product on their labeling or commercials. Many think "Sun cancer" covers melanoma. . . Most sunscreen does help with UV-B light and can prevent

Reverse the Message

If melanoma concerns you - and it should since about one in 75 Americans have a lifetime risk of getting it - there is a growing chorus of researchers asserting that sunscreen does not protect you.

That was the conclusion of research by epidemiologist Marianne Berwick of the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1998. She found that there was no evidence that it protected you. "It's not safe to rely on sunscreen" to protect you from malignant melanoma she told the media.

Even sunscreen advocates like Dr. Martin A. Weinstock, a professor of Dermatology at Brown University argue that for sunscreen to work it must be slopped on real thick and reapplied every few hours. That can amount to a full bottle per person per day at the beach. This is something few do. In a 2002 survey he reported that 39 percent of teenagers claimed that they were using a broad spectrum sunscreen when they got their worst sunburns.

In fact, the use of sunscreen may actually help cause melanoma. In a now classic 1993 Mother Jones article, "Beach Bummer," medical writer investigated the historical evidence and found that sunscreens offer a sense of false security and prolongs people's time in the sun by preventing the only natural melanoma warning system human skin has - sunburn.

Indeed there is no gold standard evidence from clinical trials that proves the efficacy of sunscreen in preventing skin cancer. The American College of Preventive Medicine and others have questioned the efficacy of its use.

In the December 16, 2003 Annals of Internal Medicine Dr. L.K. Dennis of the University of Iowa concluded that "No association was seen between melanoma and sunscreen use," after she and her colleagues conducted A comprehensive MEDLINE search of articles published from 1966 to 2003 that reported information on sunscreen use and melanoma in humans.

Even the conservative Journal of the National Cancer Institute is critical. In a July 2003 article they quoted  Olaf Gefeller, Ph.D., of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany said, given the failure of studies to date to demonstrate a protective effect of sunscreen against melanoma, the rigorous tests of evidence-based medicine suggest that "as a pharmaceutical product marketed for melanoma protection (instead of the prevention of sunburns), sunscreens would have failed the tests of efficacy during the approval procedure."

"Messages about prevention may need to shift the emphasis still further toward covering up and staying out of the sun if the trend of [increasing melanoma] incidence is to be reversed," said Dr. Julia Verne director of the South West Cancer Intelligence Service in Bristol, England in 2003.

What to do?

The most effective ways to be protected from UVA radiation (associated with melanoma) is a good wide-brimmed hat, clothing and sunglasses. But sun care manufacturers who made $863 million in 2001 do not mention these facts in their sunscreen packaging or advertisements. Nor do they mention research on the horizon into whether several ingredients in sunscreens (like oxybenzone ) are dangerous. A chemical called avobenzone (Parsol 1789) has been proven to be effective in stopping most UVA rays for a short period, though few popular sunscreens have it.

Australia has a "No Hat, No Play" rule. Every child must wear a hat to play outside. Children have begun wearing neck-to-knee swimsuits on beaches and at pools. Lifeguards set an example by wearing wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts and sit in the shade. Many pools and playgrounds are now covered by expansive tents or newly planted trees. The rate of skin cancer is down 11 percent over the last 10 years in Australia, mostly among youth, who are getting the message.

In contrast, the U.S. lags behind in this fundamental precaution. Count the number of umbrellas at the swimming pool or beach this summer where the UV intensity is compounded by water and sand. They are often not much in evidence.  "No diving," "or "swim at your own risk" signs are frequent, but signs warning bathers to limit sun exposure are rare. I've never seen one.