32% of young white women do indoor tanning
Despite years of warning about the hazards, about a third of young white women use indoor tanning equipment, increasing their risk of deadly skin cancer, says a study out today. It’s the first major federal assessment of indoor tanning use in more than a decade.
White women, ages 18 to 21, have the highest rate of indoor tanning with 32% saying they did indoor tanning at least once in the past 12 months. That group reports an average of 28 times they did indoor tanning in the same period. And 30% of women ages 22-25 say they used indoor tanning devices.
People also are getting burns from the sun, which can raise their skin cancer risk. About half of people, ages 18-29, reported at least one sunburn in the past year.
This news comes in the wake of a highly publicized story about a New Jersey woman who reportedly is addicted to suntanning and took her child into an indoor tanning salon.
Experts have been warning for years that exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from indoor tanning equipment increases the risk of skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the USA, and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer, the CDC says. Indoor tanning before age 35 increases a person’s risk of getting melanoma by 75%, according to the CDC. Sunburn indicates too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation. The country spends about $1.7 billion to treat skin cancer each year, the new report says.
The data, published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, are based on findings from interviews with about 25,000 adults in the National Health Interview Survey. CDC did the report in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute.
“We think this a public health epidemic in the making,” says Marcus Plescia, director of CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “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.”
Sun-tanning is especially harmful at this young age, he says. “It’s not like they are going once, it’s regular use. Any use is dangerous, but this frequent use is particularly dangerous.”
Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, says the numbers “are astounding. These are serious numbers and a serious problem. We’re not getting the message across that people need to avoid tanning beds and follow sun-safe behaviors.
The International Agency for the Research on Cancer has classified tanning beds as definitely carcinogenic to humans, Lichtenfeld says.
There are initiatives in more than a dozen states, counties and cities around the country to either ban the use of or significantly regulate the use of tanning beds by people under 18, he says.
Daniel Siegel, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, says, “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.”
He says young women are “responding to the aggressive advertising of the tanning industry. There’s a lot of heavy-duty marketing by tanning salons claiming they are healthy when they are absolutely unhealthy.”
Other findings from the report:
• 44% of white women, ages 18 to 21, in the Midwest reported indoor tanning at least once in the past year; and 36% of women, 22-25 in the South.
• Overall, 5.6% of adults reported indoor tanning during the past 12 months.
• Of those white adults who did indoor tanning, 58% of women and 40% of men say they did it 10 or more times in the previous year.
• Among adults ages 18-29 , whites reported the highest sunburn prevalence at 66%; blacks had the lowest at 11%. Sunburn is not as common among blacks as compared with whites, but blacks can get sun-burned, the CDC says.
By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY