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In the United States skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer, and melanoma is the most lethal type of skin cancer. According to two studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute, young adults are increasing their risk for developing the disease.
In the first study, the researchers found that 50% of people aged between 18 to 29 reported that they had suffered at least one sunburn in the previous year, even though protective behaviors such as wearing long clothing to the ankles, sunscreen use, and seeking shade has increased. 66% of young white adults reported sunburn vs. 11% of blacks.
Among young women, 37% reported using sunscreen and 35% reported staying in the shade. Black women were less likely to use sunscreen and white women were less likely to stay in the shade. Among young men, 33% reported wearing long clothing to the ankles and 26% stayed in the shade.
In the second study, the researchers found that indoor tanning is still popular among young adults, especially among white women aged 18-21 years (32%) and 22-25 years (30%). Among white adults who reported tanning indoors, 58% of women and 40% of men revealed that they used a tanning bed 10+ times in the past year. White women aged 18-21 who reported indoor tanning used tanning beds on an average of 28 times in the previous year.
Furthermore, white women aged between 18-21 years in the Midwest had the highest prevalence of indoor tanning (44%), as well as white women aged 22-25 years living in the south (36%).
According to the researchers indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases a person’s risk of developing melanoma by 75%.
Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control explained:
“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.
We must accelerate our efforts to educate young adults about the dangers of indoor tanning to prevent melanoma as this generation ages.”
Anne Hartman, co-author of the study, from the Applied Research Program of NCI’s Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, said:
“Efforts to shape public policies awareness regarding indoor tanning generally have been targeted toward adolescents rather than young adults to help change behavior of minors.
This study suggests that as adolescents mature into young adults, they may continue to need environmental support to develop and maintain healthy behaviors and to change their perspectives about tanning.”
Individuals should take the following steps in order to protect themselves from sunburn and an increased risk of cancer:
- Wear long clothing to protect exposed skin
- Avoid indoor tanning
- Use a sunscreen with a sun protective factor 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses that block close to 100% of UVA and UVB rays
- Stay in the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade the face, head, ears and neck
Grace Rattue. “Sunburn Common Among Young Adults, USA.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 14 May. 2012. Web.
14 May. 2012. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/245350.php>
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‘Sunburn Common Among Young Adults, USA’
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