The Israeli habit of broiling one's body in the sun to get a tan has finally bitten the dust, at least according to a new survey conducted for the Israel Cancer Association (ICA).
Fully 71 percent of a representative sample agreed with the statement, "Sunbathing doesn't interest me; I have internalized the message that health is more important."
The ICA said that the poll, conducted among 500 Hebrew-speaking adults, found that only 6.3% said they intended to "suntan a lot and as soon as possible." An additional 20.4% said they intended to tan, "but only during the safe hours before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m."
ICA director-general Miri Ziv said the poll showed impressively high awareness of the health dangers of exposure to the sun.
"I hope that, this coming summer, this declaration will be carried out. And when Israelis do suntan, we hope they will do so only during the safer hours when they reduce the risk of wrinkles, sunspots and skin cancer," she said, as well as using suitable sunscreens to reduce ultraviolet ray damage to the skin.
Every year, 900 Israeli men and women are diagnosed with melanoma, the most potentially disfiguring and fatal form of skin cancer. More than 10,000 others are diagnosed each year with other kinds of skin cancer that are less often fatal but can harm the quality of life and be disfiguring due to the need for surgery.
Israel has the second highest skin cancer rate in the world, after Australia. In Israel, 15 cases are diagnosed each year per 100,000 residents; in Australia it is an even more whopping 35 cases per 100,000. In other countries, the average is below 10.
The ICA is holding its annual Skin Cancer Awareness Week from June 18 to 23, during which it arranges for free skin cancer checks around the country in cooperation with the four health funds, the Israel Dermatology Society and the Israel Plastic Surgery Society. It is to be accompanied for the 14th straight year with a media campaign.
More information about skin cancer is available at the Telemeida number at 1-800-599-995 or from the ICA's Web site at www.cancer.org.il.