Every day, I diagnose or treat a patient with skin cancer. Often, we can intervene before it becomes life-threatening. For most, the prognosis is excellent. As common as it is, however, skin cancer should not be taken lightly. My patients have lost their sight, their fingers, their ears and even their lives.

My patients often remember long days in the sun and blistering sunburns. “We didn’t know,” we say, just before we have a good laugh about the foolishness of baby oil and aluminum foil.

But now we do know. We know that the most important factor in developing skin cancer is ultraviolet light. We know each year more than 419,000 cases are attributable to tanning devices and that tanning increases the risk of melanoma by 59 percent. We know that 30 million Americans use artificial tanning each year, including more than 2 million teenagers.

The Maine Legislature has reconsidered a bill that would prevent tanning by minors. Similar legislation was vetoed in 2013, and has now been defeated in the Senate. If fixed and signed into law, Maine would join Texas, New York and 12 other states with similar laws. When Texans and New Yorkers agree, there must more than politics at stake.

Indeed there is more at stake. Lives are at stake. Enormous medical and personal costs are at stake. This is not the time to carve out ideological differences about government intervention. This is practical legislation that prevents skin cancer in our community. This legislation is common sense, whether your politics are blue or red. This is not a bill about tanning — it is about cancer.

I urge interested people, particularly those who have been affected by skin cancer, to contact their state senator and representative and ask them to fix this bill now.

Jonathan B. Karnes

MDFMR Dermatology Services


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