Young Winners of Annual DOH Poster Contest Highlight Prevention of Skin Cancer

Childhood Sun Burns Increase Risk of Skin Cancer in Adulthood

ALBANY, NY (June 16, 2009) - The State Health Department (DOH) today announced that eight young people from across the state are the winners in this year's DOH SunWise with SHADE Annual Poster Contest, designed to raise children's awareness about skin cancer and the need to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Eighth-grader Andrew Lewis of Jefferson Middle School in Jamestown took first place in the contest. See his winning poster:

"My congratulations to all the young people who participated in this year's Poster Contest to help educate students, parents and teachers about the importance of sun safety," said State Health Commissioner Richard F. Daines, M.D. "We can all enjoy the warm sunny days this summer while taking some simple precautions to prevent skin cancer."

Commissioner Daines said children are especially vulnerable to dangerous sun exposure. "A blistering sunburn as a child doubles the risk for skin cancer in adulthood," Dr. Daines said, noting that the majority of lifetime sun exposure occurs before age 18 and approximately one in five children will develop skin cancer as adults.

Up to 90 percent of skin cancer cases are attributed to UV radiation from the sun. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, which typically don't cause serious health affects and can be removed through minor surgery.

Melanoma, the third type of skin cancer, is the most serious and can be fatal. Approximately 7,800 deaths are attributed to melanoma each year in the United States. In New York State more than 2,800 cases of melanoma are reported each year.

Prevention of skin cancer must start early in life, with special precautions taken to protect the delicate skin of infants and young children. Teens should avoid sunbathing in search of a tan.

Taking the following routine steps will reduce exposure to the sun and the risk of skin cancer:

  • Avoid direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's UV rays are strongest. Burns can occur even on cloudy days.
  • Seek shade during peak hours.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved shirts with long pants whenever possible.
  • Use full spectrum (UV-A and UV-B) sunscreen SPF 15 or greater, applying it to skin 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors and again after swimming or perspiring.
  • Wear sunglasses that block 99 percent of UV-A and UV-B radiation.
  • Avoid tanning at tanning salons.

Andrew will receive a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, among other prizes. In addition, Andrew's school will receive an ultraviolet (UV) sensitive color-changing Frisbee and a one-gallon pump container of sunscreen. His poster was entered in the national poster competition sponsored by the SHADE Foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to skin cancer prevention and will be used this year in State Health Department public education materials.

The winning poster and entries from 13 finalists were selected from more than 1,800 entries submitted by students in kindergarten through eighth grade across the state. Students were asked to submit one poster that depicted how to reduce overexposure to the sun. Posters were judged by the SHADE Foundation based on creativity, originality and how well the poster promoted sun safety.

Other contest winners, who will each receive a $50 check, are:

  • Kindergarten: Emily Persaud, Flushing Christian School, Flushing, NY
  • 1st Grade: Nayma Zahan, P.S. 179, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2nd Grade: Mohammed Uddin, P.S. 179, Brooklyn, NY
  • 3rd Grade: Patrick Funk, South Country School, Bay Shore, NY
  • 4th Grade: Aidan Sensiba, Sullivan West Central School, Jeffersonville, NY
  • 5th Grade: Audrey Lee, PS 94Q, Little Neck, NY
  • 6th Grade: Crystal Mintz, Hampton Bays Middle School, Hampton Bays, NY
  • 7th Grade: Samantha Maloy, Holland Middle School, Holland, NY
  • Honorable Mentions: Lily Newland, 6th grade, Wantagh Middle School, Wantagh, NY; Jessica Fischer, 7th grade, Clarence Middle School, Clarence NY; Isa Kim, 8th grade, Flushing Christian School, Flushing, NY; Sohail Ahmed, 5th grade, P.S. 179, Brooklyn, NY; Benjamin Adegbite, 8th grade, St. Mary School, Bronx, NY

More information on how to prevent skin cancer is available at: http://www.nyhealth.gov/diseases/cancer/skin/index.htm

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