New Studies say Young People Taking Risks That Can Lead to Skin Cancer

Young adults are increasing their risk for skin cancer according to a pair of studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.  

One study finds that half of people ages 18 to 29 reported at least one sunburn in the past year despite an increase in protective behaviors, such as wearing sunscreen.  The other study finds indoor tanning is still common among young adults.

 Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, says some young people may not be using sunscreen properly and may have a false sense of security when they use it, staying in the sun longer than they should. He says sometimes people are not aware they need to apply sunscreen frequently. There’s a perception you put it on, and it’s good for the day, which he says is not accurate.

Dr. Plescia also agrees young people may not be wearing sunscreen and taking protective measures during common outdoor activities.  He says people have come to know when you’re sitting in the beach in blazing sun, you need to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing.

Dr. Plescia says this is the age group where, if they have the exposures while they’re young, they’re more likely to develop skin cancer.  He says malignant melanoma   is a deadly form of skin cancer, one they’re most concerned about preventing.

Dr. Plescia says there’s also great concern about tanning bed use.  He says it’s a significant risk for cancer, because tanning beds are considered a carcinogen.

The study found almost one-third of women ages 18 to 25 used tanning beds regularly over the last year. Among white adults who report indoor tanning, 58% of women and 40% of men used one 10 or more times in the previous year.

Dr. Plescia says the incidence of malignant melanoma is actually higher among men than women.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S.