Sunburns, Indoor Tanning Increase Risk of Skin Cancer in Young Americans: CDC Reports

Two reports released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest that young adults are ignoring warnings about skin cancer risks.

About 50 percent of young adults have suffered from sunburns, at least one in the past year alone.

While another report says that more number of white women use indoor tanning despite warnings that ultraviolet rays from these can increase risk of skin cancer by as much as 75 percent if used before age 35.

"We think this a public health epidemic in the making. This kind of exposure to UV radiation in young adult women could cause the incidence of melanoma to go up significantly. Right now it's the seventh most common cancer in women and if we don't do something, it could go much higher,” said Marcus Plescia, director of CDC's Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. (Reports USA TODAY)

The report says that white women aged 18- 21 were more likely to use indoor tanning. Many women reported to have used these devices twice in the past year. Midwest (44 percent) and South (36 percent) were the places where indoor tanning was most prevalent.

Previous research has indicated that young people residing in Midwest and South are more likely to engage in behaviors that increase the risk of development of skin cancer.

“We are in the midst of a skin cancer epidemic right now, and young people are ignoring all the warnings about the dangers of tanning salons,” said Daniel Siegel, president, American Academy of Dermatology.( USA TODAY)

The cost of skin cancer is huge, roughly about $1.7 billion in treatment and about $ 3.8 billion as loss of productivity, according to the reports.

“These studies reinforce the need for continued public health efforts to facilitate sun protection, reduce indoor tanning bed use, prevent sunburn and avoid future increases in the burden of skin cancer. Evidence suggests that clinical counseling to promote skin cancer prevention can increase sun-protective behaviors and decrease indoor tanning,” said Dawn Holman, a behavioral scientist for the CDC. (Reports TIME)

In an article published in 2003 in the journal Archives of Dermatology, researchers say that U.S legal system prohibits adolescents from using tobacco but rarely limits access to indoor tanning whereas the French law denies access to tanning salons but not tobacco.

For the latest study on sunburns, CDC and the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from the 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, and 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).

For the study on indoor tanning, CDC and the National Cancer Institute analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).