Even though we are all being told repeatedly that tanning outdoors and using sun beds increases our risk of developing skin cancer, a considerable proportion of Caucasian adolescent females and young women say they ignore the warnings and use sun beds and sunbathe outdoors.
A survey carried out by the American Academy of Dermatology revealed that 32% of respondents said they had used a tanning bed during the previous twelve months. Of those who had used a tanning bed during the previous year, one-quarter of them used them at least weekly. 81% of all respondents said they had sunbathed outdoors either often or occasionally during the previous twelve months.
Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, said:
"Our survey underscores the importance of educating young women about the very real risks of tanning, as melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer - is increasing faster in females 15 to 29 years old than in males of the same age group.
In fact, most young women with melanoma are developing it on their torso, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors such as indoor tanning. In my practice, I have had patients - young women with a history using tanning beds - who have died from melanoma."
According to the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services, USA) and WHO (World Health Organization), UV radiation from the sun or artificial lights is a known carcinogen. The tanning industry claims the dangers are controllable.
However, according to compelling evidence from studies, regular use of indoor tanning facilities raises the user's risk of developing melanoma (type of skin cancer) by 75%.
The survey revealed that 50% of 18 to 22 year old females have indoor tanned compared to 22% of 14-to17 year olds. 86% had never tried a spray-on tan, which are much safer.
Dr. Moy said:
"Exposure to UV radiation is the leading risk factor for skin cancer, yet - despite this knowledge - droves of teens and young women are flocking to tanning bed facilities and beaches or pools to tan every year. The challenge is that teens have access to indoor tanning salons on almost every corner. A recent survey of 116 U.S. cities found an average of 42 tanning salons per city, which means tanning salons are more prevalent than Starbucks® or McDonald's®. We are very concerned that this tanning behavior will lead to a continued increase in the incidence of skin cancer in young people and, ultimately, more untimely deaths from this devastating disease."
The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that 20% of Americans will develop skin cancer during their lives. Melanoma is responsible for three-quarters of skin cancer deaths. Over the last three decades the incidence of melanoma has been steadily rising, and over recent years young Caucasian women's rates have been rising exceptionally fast.
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
Written by Christian Nordqvist