Cities consider giving away sunscreen to combat skin cancer


Cities consider giving away sunscreen to combat skin cancer

Every year more than 10,000 Americans die of skin cancer and the estimated cost of treating skin cancers in the United States tops $8 billion annually. Public health officials across the country have taken notice and some cities like Boston and Miami are now giving away free sunscreen at zero cost to taxpayers in a bid to fight the problem. New York City is considering a similar program.

CCTV America’s Karina Huber has more.

Cities consider giving away sunscreen to combat skin cancer

Cities around the country are implementing programs to distribute sunscreen for free in parks, pools and beaches, at zero cost to taxpayers. CCTV America’s Karina Huber reports.

It’s beach season in the U.S. and with that comes increased exposure to the sun.

For those who don’t protect themselves it also means an increased risk to develop a deadly cancer.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, melanoma, the most fatal of skin cancers, is mainly caused by the sun.

“One of the things that we know about skin cancer is that it is almost always preventable when we use good sun protective strategies that include the use of sunscreen with an SPF of 30,” Deb Girard, executive director of the Melanoma Foundation of New England, said. 

This is not new information, but the prevalence of skin cancer continues to rise.

In 2014, the U.S. Surgeon General, the leading spokesperson on public health issues, released a call to action encouraging local governments to tackle the problem.

Officials in New York City are currently considering a program that would distribute sunscreen for free in the city’s parks, pools and beaches at zero cost to taxpayers.

It is inspired by similar programs already in effect in Boston and Miami that are mainly funded by non-governmental organizations.

The Melanoma Foundation of New England sponsors the program in Boston, and is interested in assisting with the one in New York.

Girard said its main goal is to increase awareness around the damaging impact of sun exposure.

“It’s not only to put on your sunscreen and to reapply regularly, but to think about: Do I have a hat? Do I have sunglasses? Do I have any protective clothing? Is it the middle of the day and I could actually find a bit of shade?” Girard said. 

New Yorkers CCTV spoke to were receptive to the idea of free sunscreen.

The hope among public health officials is that if sunscreen were more readily available, more people would use it and more lives could be spared.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld discusses skin cancer

For more on the dangers of sun exposure, CCTV America’s Mike Walter spoke to Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, about melanoma, the effectiveness of sunscreen and why more cities aren’t handing it out to citizens.