Saturday, September 13, 2014

Social norms and melanoma

I read a very interesting article the other day about how social norms in our culture have influenced the spike in melanoma in the last 30 years.  If you think back to the turn of the century, for the most part, people covered up (in regards to clothing).  They also idolized porcelain skin, in which was also meant a "higher" class in society, while tan skin was usually found in people who worked outdoors in the fields and were "lower" class in society.
The article also points out that earliest evidence that UV exposure could lead to skin cancer was found in the early 20th century, but ignored by most people. As the years went on, from the 1940s to the 1960s, tan skin hit its stride, and bikinis and T-shirts were the clothes of choice. But incidences of melanoma went up 300% in men and 400% in women between the 1930s and 1960s.
And now the incidence rate of melanoma is an all-time high.  What's interesting to me is that awareness and education for the disease is also increasing, yet people seem to be ignoring the statistics and opting for the tanning beds, the long, unprotected exposure in the sun, and less clothing.
Can we change this?  Yes, we can, but it's going to take small groups of people to change and make an impact, before we see any real decrease in incidence and deaths from this melanoma.
You can read the full article here.

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