Staying safe in the sun

Sun screen labels

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (NBC) — It is that time of year when we’re desperate to shake off the winter blahs and bask in sunshine.

While a little sun can do wonders for mood, too much can be dangerous for your skin.

“I would get as dark as I possibly could — never thinking it was dark enough,” admits Alyson Fuller.

In the winters she hit the tanning salon at least four times a week until one day she looked at her arm and knew immediately that she’d taken her tanning way too far.

She had melanoma.

“Unfortunately, that story is relatively typical,” says Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery. “We’re seeing an increase in melanoma, which is a deadly form of skin cancer, among younger women.”

Dermatologists say that intense desire for a deep tan among young women is fueling an increase in all skin cancers.

They talk to their patients about minimizing sun exposure and steer them toward a good sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 and two key words on the label: “Broad Spectrum.”

“That means it protects not only against sunburn but skin cancer and early skin aging,” Dr. Tanzi explains.

According to new Food and Drug Administration regulations if a product does not meet that standard its label will have to alert consumers it’s not been shown to prevent skin cancer.

Because Alyson Fuller was on full alert she caught her two melanomas early.

Her prognosis is bright, even without a lot of sun.

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