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Press Release

For Immediate Release: May 27, 1999
Contact: CDC Media Relations (404) 639-3286

CDC launches multimedia campaign advising young Americans to

"Choose Your Cover" when having fun in the sun

As we get ready for summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reminds us that protecting our skin from the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays can help prevent skin cancer. This year more than a million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed and the most serious form of the disease, malignant melanoma, will claim 9,200 lives.

CDC's public education campaign, "Choose Your Cover," urges adolescents and young adults in particular to play it safe and take precautions to protect their skin. "Young people need to know that they can significantly reduce their risk of getting skin cancer later if they start protecting their skin from the sun now," said CDC Director Dr. Jeffrey Koplan.

Skin cancer is the most common kind of cancer in the United States, and it appears to be related to increased voluntary exposure to the sun's UV rays. Unprotected skin can be harmed by UV rays in as little as 15 minutes; yet it can take up to 12 hours for skin to show the full effect of sun exposure. So even if skin only looks a little "pink," at first, it may actually be burned and the effects will be felt later on.

Serious sunburns, especially those that occur during childhood and adolescence, can also increase the chances of developing malignant melanoma. Although most Americans are aware of the dangers of UV exposure, only about one third take measures to protect their skin from the sun.

"We'd like young people to know that they can safeguard their skin while still having fun outdoors, and "Choose Your Cover" is an upbeat campaign that suggests a variety of ways they can protect themselves from dangerous UV rays," said Dr. James S. Marks, director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

CDC recommends five easy options for protection: 1) seek shade, especially during midday when UV rays are strongest and do the most damage; 2) cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin; 3) get a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck; 4) wear sunglasses that block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible; and 5) rub on sunscreen with at least SPF 15 and both UVA and UVB protection.

The campaign includes television and print PSAs, a brochure for parents, outreach to television meteorologists to encourage them to broadcast warnings about the dangers of overexposure to the sun, and Internet messages targeted to Web sites frequented by teenagers and young adults. Also, CDC is partnering with Seventeen magazine on a T-shirt design contest and "Girl Power!", a national education campaign designed to empower 9- to 14-year-old girls.

For more information, visit the following websites:

CDC's "Choose Your Cover" campaign
Seventeen magazine contest and quiz


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