Your doctor, your mom, and your shade-obsessed friends have probably all told you already about the dangers of suntanning—and now the surgeon general is jumping on the anti-bronzing bandwagon for the first time. Boris Lushniak today called skin cancer a “major public health problem,” and pointed a finger at outdoor and indoor UV light, reports USA Today. His warning cites rising skin-cancer numbers as the push behind the official warning: The report says that nearly 5 million Americans are treated for the disease annually to the tune of $8.1 billion. That includes 63,000 new cases each year and 9,000 yearly deaths, reports the Washington Post. What's more, melanoma cases are increasing as other types of cancer are decreasing.
The statement posted on the Department of Health and Human Services website implores people to take the usual precautions in the sun—including wearing sunglasses, a high-SPF lotion, and other protective gear—but Lushniak, a dermatologist, also places special emphasis on “completely avoidable” ultraviolet radiation exposure from indoor tanning beds and booths. The FDA piggybacked on Lushniak’s comments with its own official take today, reminding the public about its mandate for sunlamp labels “stating that they should not be used on anyone younger than 18 years.” The Indoor Tanning Association says in a statement that UV light from both the sun and sunlamps is “healthful in moderation,” as USA Today puts it, a claim that Lushniak disputes. “Tanned skin is damaged skin,” he says in the HHS statement. “We need to shatter the myth that tanned skin is a sign of health.”