SCHAUMBURG, ILL. — Jaime Regen Rea spent her high school lunch hours tanning in a nearby salon in an effort to be tan and popular. Jaime, who also spent time in the sun, went from a self-proclaimed tanning bed addict to a melanoma patient in just a couple of years. Jaime was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, at age 20 and died just three weeks shy of her 30th birthday. Now her family is honoring Jaime’s memory by participating in new TV and print public service advertisements (PSAs) from the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) to educate people about the increased risk of melanoma from tanning beds and sun exposure.
“Like many people, I didn’t know how dangerous tanning beds were,” said Donna Regen, of Allen, Texas, who is Jaime’s mother and a participant in the campaign. “Now we know that UV rays from tanning beds contribute to melanoma. It is an evil, nasty disease. I can’t find the words to describe what I lost.”
“Stories like Jaime’s put a face on the grave statistic that one person dies every hour from melanoma,” said dermatologist William D. James, MD, FAAD, president, American Academy of Dermatology. “A tan gained by outdoor or indoor UV exposure is simply not worth the risk.”
Indoor tanning has been associated with a 75 percent increased risk of melanoma, the most common form of cancer for 25-29 year olds and the second most common form of cancer for 15-29 year olds. Government cancer statistics show melanoma rates in young women are rising. The rate of new melanoma cases in younger women jumped 50 percent from 1980 to 2004 but no increase was shown in young men during that same period. According to the World Health Organization, the torso is the most common location for developing melanoma, which might be due to high-risk tanning behaviors in females 15-29 years old. UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds also has been associated with non-melanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, as well as wrinkles and age spots.
“UV exposure is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer, so it’s important that people protect their skin from the sun and avoid tanning beds,” said Dr. James.
“No mother should ever have to sit by her daughter while they pump poison into her veins for chemotherapy treatment. No mother should ever have to visit her daughter in a cemetery,” said Donna. “No mother should have to do these things. Melanoma is preventable. Protect your skin from the sun and avoid tanning beds.”
The campaign, which also includes a radio PSA that is a contemporary folk song about the dangers of indoor tanning, is being distributed throughout the country. The television PSAs will be broadcasted in movie theatres in selected markets. For more information about the campaign or to view the television, radio and print ads, visit www.aad.org/psa.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 16,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or www.aad.org.