Acting U.S. Surgeon General Boris D. Lushniak is concerned about skin cancer, so much so that he has issued a warning to the public calling the disease, "a major public health problem that requires immediate action."

In a new report, Lushniak noted that there are 63,000 new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year, and an estimated 9,000 annual deaths from the disease, many of them involving teens and young adults. He urged policymakers and researchers to do more to combat skin cancer and also encouraged the general public to get serious about sunscreen and shade.  

Lushniak admits that the data is not clear on why the number of skin cancer cases have tripled over the last 30 years, but he does believe that indoor tanning beds play a role. In an interview with the Washington Post, Lushniak said, "the facts are that indoor tanning is a source of ultraviolet radiation, period. Ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen, period. This is a needless exposure to ultraviolet radiation."  

The surgeon general also explained the difficulty in reducing skin cancer cases when so many Americans still strive for that ultimate summer tan. For some reason, we still equate tanned skin with relaxation and vacation — but as Lushniak remarked, "tanned skin is damaged skin."

Related posts on MNN:

Surgeon general raises alarm over skin cancer
Cases of deadly skin cancer have increased 200 percent since the early '70s.