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CDC: Skin Cancer Warnings Ignored By Young Adults

May 15th, 2012

Skin cancerYoung adults in the United States are still getting excessive sun exposure or use indoor tanning despite several warnings about its dangers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials said Thursday.

Sun exposure, indoor tanning, and sunburns early in life increase the risk for skin cancer.

“People need to realize that exposure to ultraviolet light, whether it’s from the sun or tanning beds, is dangerous, particularly when you are young, and they need to limit their exposure,” said Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.

“We are concerned that tanning is becoming more prevalent and we are concerned that this is going to become a real epidemic if we are not careful. The problem is you don’t see the cancers crop up until ten to fifteen years later,” he added.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer among Americans and its most severe form–melanoma–is potentially fatal.

The CDC urges the public to take steps in protecting the younger generation from widespread melanoma by increasing sunscreen use and shade especially in recreational areas.

The study is based on a 2010 survey of 5,000 young adults between 18 and 29.

Fifty percent of the subjects experienced at least one episode of sunburn, despite an increase in sunscreen use and other protective measures, the study found. The number is even higher among whites, at 66 percent.

Researchers also found that indoor tanning is popular among young adults, especially among white women between 18 and 25 years old. Some reported tanning more than twice a month on the average.

“People need to understand that there is a risk to using tanning beds,” Plescia said.

The risk of melanoma is increased by 75 percent when indoor tanning is started before age 35, several studies show.

Thirty states have regulations regarding the use of indoor tanning by young people. However, a national guideline must be developed.

“Only two states, California and Vermont, ban indoor tanning for anyone under 18,” Plescia said.

The numbers indicate how young adults can be reckless.

“I am not surprised we are seeing lots of people tanning. It’s just like smoking and other risky habits; you’re young and you think you are immortal,” said Dr. Daniel Siegel, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The risk for melanoma is on the rise, Siegel noted. The lifetime risk used to be 1 in 1,000 forty years ago; now it’s close to 1 in 50, he said.

For more information on the risks associated with sun exposure contact your primary care physician or call your health insurance carrier to find an in-network doctor near you.

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