Skin cancer rates rising in young women

By: Natasha Taylor, Public Affairs and Marketing Coordinator

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According to new research, women who tan indoors are six times more likely to develop melanoma before turning 30 compared to young women who do not tan indoors.

Analysis of the data found that women under age 40, on average, began tanning indoors at age 16 and went around 100 times. Due to the young age that indoor tanning was initiated and the frequency, the study concluded that the rise in melanoma in young women is likely linked to the use of indoor tanning.

For this study, researchers at The University of Minnesota in Minneapolis compared data between 681 melanoma patients over the age of 50 and 654 people without melanoma who were 25-49 years old.

Dr. Martha Arroyo, a dermatologist at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. urges people to avoid all forms of indoor tanning.

“Indoor tanning beds emit UVA and UVB radiation. Both types of radiation increase the risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma,” Dr. Arroyo says. “Studies have found a 59 percent increased risk of melanoma in people exposed to radiation from tanning beds.”

In addition to indoor tanning, Dr. Arroyo warns against other risk factors for melanoma including:

  • History of blistering sunburns as a teenager
  • Women with red or blonde hair
  • Marked freckling
  • Family history of melanoma
  • History of actinic keratosis
  • Outdoor summer jobs as a teenager for more than three years

If someone has used indoor tanning in the past or has any of the above risk factors and is over the age of 40, Dr. Arroyo highly recommends yearly skin exams with a trained professional, such as a dermatologist.

Monthly skin self-exams are also important she says. In particular, people should examine moles using the ABCDEs of melanoma:

  • Asymmetry
  • Border irregularity
  • Color change
  • Diameter greater than 6mm
  • Evolving or changing lesion

Dr. Arroyo says to contact a physician if any of these early warning signs are noticed during a self-exam.