Between 1970 and 2009, melanoma increased eight-fold among women ages 18-39 and four-fold in men who live in Olmstead County, Minn. These numbers mirror the trend across the country. The rising cancer rates, especially among young women, is being driven by the use of indoor tanning beds. Tanning beds can emit ten to fifteen times more UV radiation than the midday sun. Ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen.
Besides using tanning beds, risk factors for developing melanoma include a family history; having fair skin, light hair and eyes; and burning easily. The greatest increase in melanoma is occurring among adolescents and young adults.
Among women, cancer was most commonly found on legs (particularly on the back of the legs), arms and back. In men, the back and arms were most frequently affected; followed by neck, shoulder and head.
To lessen the risk of melanoma, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding the mid-day sun and wearing a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or more. “There is no such thing as a healthy tan.”