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Save Your Skin

April 18, 2007 — People have worshipped the sun for all of recorded history, and it shows. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and is reshaping norms of outdoor work and play, beauty and health.

This April 24, in celebration of Skin Cancer Awareness Day, the University of Utah’s Student Health Center and Student Health Advisory Committee will host the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (CRPF) campaign “Save Your Skin.” The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Tanner Plaza, located east of the student services building.

Developed to increase cancer awareness, “Save Your Skin” includes a traveling exhibit and special age progression software that shows students how they might look if they overexpose their skin to the harmful rays of the sun. Visitors can learn how to monitor their body for signs of skin cancer and receive free giveaways, including samples of sunscreen.

“This event gives us a great opportunity to educate U of U students on the importance of protecting their skin and, maybe even more importantly, to protect their children from the sun’s radiation,” states Jason Gillman, program manager for Student Health Services.

Sancy Leachman, director of the Tom C. Mathews Jr. Familial Melanoma Research Clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and associate professor of dermatology at the U adds that because of Salt Lake City’s high altitude, the intensity of sunlight is much greater. “Here you can sunburn 30 percent faster than in Los Angeles. And if you hike Mt. Timpanogos, you’ll sunburn 77 percent faster than if you sunbathed in Los Angeles.”

Tanning beds, intense in radiation, are also a beauty aid with potentially deadly side effects. The UVA rays used in tanning beds to tan the skin are also the type of radiation that causes wrinkling and premature aging.

“It makes no sense to tan to look better because ultimately you will look worse,” notes Gillman, who adds that new research is discovering that tanning bed use may be addictive.

Although skin cancer is the most common of all cancers, it is also one of the most curable, when detected early. With students preparing for more time outdoors, the CRPF created the campaign to encourage young adults to take precautions to prevent skin cancer, particularly before summer begins, when many college students spend more time in the sun.

The CRPF is a national, nonprofit health foundation whose mission is the prevention and early detection of cancer through scientific research, education and community outreach. The foundation focuses on those cancers, including lung, breast, prostate, colorectal, cervical, skin, oral and testicular, that can be prevented through lifestyle changes or detection and treatment in their early stages.

For additional information on the “Save Your Skin” campaign at the U, contact Jason Gillman at 801-585-1274. For more information about the CRPF, visit

Additional information on cancer prevention, awareness, treatment or research in Utah may be found at the Huntsman Cancer Institute’s website, or by calling 801-581-6365. A learning center on the first floor of HCI offers books, videos and information to the public.