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Tanning Trumps Skin Cancer Fears for Young Adults

Tanning Trumps Skin Cancer Fears for Young Adults

Young adults would rather indulge in tanning today than worry about skin cancer tomorrow. Tanning is the norm in some circles. It’s expected. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer, but that’s not scaring young adults from the lure of the tanning booth.

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from indoor tanning equipment increase the risk of developing skin cancer. Engaging in indoor tanning before age 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute found that:

  • Indoor tanning is common among young adults, with the highest rates of indoor tanning among white women aged 18-21 years (32 percent) and 22-25 years (30 percent). The reports evaluated data from the National Health Interview Survey’s Cancer Control Supplement.
  • The highest prevalence of indoor tanning was reported among white women aged 18-21 years residing in the Midwest (44 percent), and those aged 22-25 years in the South (36 percent).
  • Among white women aged 18-21 years who reported indoor tanning, an average of 28 visits occurred in the past year.
  • Among white adults who reported indoor tanning, 58 percent of women and 40 percent of men used one 10 or more times in the previous year.
  • Fifty percent of people aged 18-29 reported at least one sunburn in the previous year despite taking protective measures.

“More public health efforts, including providing shade and sunscreen in recreational settings, are needed to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection and sunburn prevention to reduce the burden of skin cancer,” said Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “We must accelerate our efforts to educate young adults about the dangers of indoor tanning to prevent melanoma as this generation ages.”

The reports were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

On a personal note, I’m not a “tanner” and I’ve not had skin cancer, but I have had cancer. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s certainly not a good trade for tan skin — or red skin — or orange skin. It is an avoidable risk and one not worth taking. Oh, and if you’re concerned about your appearance, it is worth noting that over time, tanning gives your skin that nice wrinkled, leathery look…

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Read more: Beauty, Cancer, Family, General Health, Health, Life, News & Issues, Skin Care, Teens, Women's Health, ,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

75 comments

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6:43AM PDT on May 28, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

1:43AM PDT on May 6, 2013

I really do not understand how so many people can be more afraid---or only afraid---of murder and other external potential harms but not cancer, heart disease, and the other Top Killers around the world. I don't think these people realize how many people actually suffer and die from "natural causes."

9:16AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

These people who use these God awful Tanning beds look like Peking Ducks...need to ban them.

8:11AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

A person/human Tanning is like a chicken roasting in the oven. Bath in butter/oil, place in bed of light and turn gently....and given the right amount of time, the skin will be just like a roasted chicken's skin...wrinkled, brown and possibly with little abrasions that grow.

I for one, am not roasting my body like a chicken in the oven.

9:16PM PST on Dec 6, 2012

Play now and pay later!!!

10:45PM PST on Dec 5, 2012

HEALTH more important than looking good....or many things...thank you....

3:41AM PDT on Oct 11, 2012

II have a scar on my right cheek from a large mole removed when I was three years old. It was itchy and the bumpy red part bled when scratched. Turns out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma.

11:30AM PDT on Jun 19, 2012

This is SO scary. I remember my mom warning me not to tan...we used baby oil and iodine...she said it reminded her of frying bacon. YIKES! But when we are young, the future problems seen so remote, we don't tend to listen. I'm a former tanner and favored the beds since I didn't burn first - later I had to have skin cancers removed and this was VERY scary. Now I use fake tanning or bronzers and they are totally adequate. The key is to convince young adults of this, too. But that could prove to be a challenge.

12:49PM PDT on Jun 2, 2012

thank you =D

12:19PM PDT on May 24, 2012

Tanning beds look way creepy too...

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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