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Pro Baseball Helps Keep Skin Cancer From Scoring
Date:6/20/2008

New campaign is focused especially on sunscreen-averse teen boys

FRIDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Summer officially starts Saturday and, with it, Major League Baseball is gearing up to warn players and their fans of the dangers of skin cancer.

Major League Baseball, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) are kicking off their 10th annual Play Sun Smart campaign on that day, which has been designated Play Sun Smart skin cancer awareness day.

"We're seeing more and more skin cancer in young patients. Melanoma [the most virulent form of skin cancer] kills over 8,000 Americans every year," said AAD president Dr. C. William Hanke, an Indianapolis dermatologist. "The sun is very high in the sky during the next three months. There's less thickness of the atmosphere to filter out the damaging ultraviolet wavelengths, so that the danger of unprotected sun exposure is increased. And sun exposure is the most important risk factor in skin cancer."

This year's Play Sun Smart campaign will feature a public service announcement with baseball commissioner Allan H. ("Bud") Selig, Houston Astro second baseman Mark Loretta, Los Angeles Dodger pitcher Derek Lowe and New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana.

For these men, it's personal. Selig and Loretta both survived melanoma, and Lowe had a skin cancer removed from his nose in 2003. Santana lost a close friend to the cancer in 2007.

In fact, Loretta was diagnosed after being screened at a Play Sun Smart Event in 2004. "It saved his life," Hanke said.

Major League Baseball will also be distributing sun safety-tip cards in ball parks, and sun safety messages will be announced during games.

Some one million new cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year, and baseball players are at particular risk, because they spend so much time in the sun, experts say.

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