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 Surveys 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 CDCs 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 CDCs 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
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