Posts Tagged ‘melanoma’

Is Melanoma A Disease?

October 29th, 2011

What kind of question is that? This week the American Academy of Dermatology and the CDC came out with several papers on the incidence and prevention of skin cancer. The papers cover ultra-violet exposure to children and adolescents, mortality rates, racial and ethnic variations, education in schools and screening. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology – Supplements 

So, here’s the picture on skin cancer. It is increasing across the country. It leads to higher mortality. It has a strong genetic component: light skin predisposes individuals to skin cancer. It is highly preventable by taking protective step against skin exposure. But many people do not take the  preventive steps. Hey, sounds a lot like obesity doesn’t it? Epidemic level of incidence, genetic predisposition, high environmental exposure, lack of personal protective behavior. So why do people get so excited when obesity is considered a disease but not when skin cancer is discussed? (For an example of the reaction, see the comments to Dr. Scott Kahan’s blog on Huffington Post Scott Kahan, M.D.: Why Obesity Is a Disease.)

Clearly, melanoma is a disease. So, too is obesity. The difference is our knee-jerk reaction to want to blame persons with obesity for their condition while cutting other people a lot of slack for contributing to their diseases. Until we get over this attitude, progress on preventing and treating obesity will remain limited.