According to recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has escalated, and young women are the hardest hit. Researchers speculate that the use of indoor tanning beds is a key culprit in the rising skin cancer rate in young women.
“We anticipated we’d find rising rates, as other studies are suggesting, but we found an even higher incidence than the National Cancer Institute had reported using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result database, and in particular, a dramatic rise in women in their 20s and 30s,” says lead investigator Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologist.
Researchers conducted a population-based study using records from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a decades-long database of all patient care in Olmsted County, Minn. They looked for first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients 18 to 39 from 1970 to 2009. The study found the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men. The lifetime risk of melanoma is higher in males than females, but the opposite is true in young adults and adolescents, Dr. Brewer says.
“A recent study reported that people who use indoor tanning beds frequently are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and we know young women are more likely to use them than young men,” Dr. Brewer says. Despite abundant information about the dangers of tanning beds, he adds, young women continue to use them.
Dr. Jessica Sparks Lilley, a pediatrician who has dedicated her life to helping children stay healthy, learned the hard way that the risks of getting melanoma from using a tanning bed are real! “The first time I went to a tanning bed, I was fifteen years old and trying to get a little ‘color’ to look good in a beauty pageant dress,” says Dr. Sparks Lilley. “I heard nothing of the risks (which were largely unknown at the time) and never burned. I went about ten times a year after that for various reasons—prom, pageants, and even my wedding. I thought seriously about never going back was after my first pathology lecture dealing with melanoma and the strong emphasis on UV radiation as a cause of skin cancer. My last tanning visit was April 24, 2007, about a week before my wedding…and two years before the cancer diagnosis that changed my life.”
Three years later, Dr. Sparks Lilley is cancer-free and helping adolescents comprehend the risks of using tanning beds. “It’s humiliating to recount my story—I should have known better—but I hope to teach everyone who will listen three important take-home points,” she says.
Dr. Sparks Lilley’s points include:
1. Never indoor (or outdoor) tan.
2. Talk to your physician about health concerns.
3. Take time to take care of your health.
Mayo Clinic release: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(12)00209-1/abstract
Dr. Jessica Lilley’s full story: http://blog.coolibar.com/doc-learns-hard-way-to-avoid-tanning