April 3, 2012

Skin Cancer Rates

A new report shows skin cancer in young women is skyrocketing.

Nicole Tamney: My mom told me this was cancer in a box.”

Scott: But Nicole Tamney never thought it would happen to her.

Nicole: It was like a scene from movie, kind of, you know. The phone fell out of my hand, dropped to floor crying. It was just, I mean, I think oncologist and cancer are the two scariest words.

Scott: Back in 2010, Nicole was just finishing up treatment for skin cancer. And she is far from alone. According to new research, while overall cancer rates are dropping, the number of skin cancers, or melanomas, for young people is on the rise. And girls are most at risk. There were eight times the number of young women with melanoma in the years 2000 to 2009 compared to the 1970s. Researchers say they think they know why.

“The rise in tanning bed behavior over the years is probably a main contributor. There are other factors that have been found, but tanning is probably a big one.”

Scott: Every year, 28 million people hit the tanning beds. And a huge part of the $2.6 billion tanning salon industry, 70%, are young women age 16 to 29.

Just last month, a report from Congress accused salons of lying to customers just to get their business. They are targeted with student specials, homecoming specials, even deals for the prom.

When congressional investigators contacted 300 tanning salons, identifying themselves as fair-skinned teenage girls, they were given bad information about the risks involved. Ninety percent of the salons told them indoor tanning posed no health dangers. Seventy-eight percent claimed that indoor tanning would actually improve health, preventing diseases ranging from arthritis to lupus. And fifty-one percent denied that indoor tanning increased the risk of skin cancer.

According to dermatologists, nothing could be more misleading.

“It is so false. We know that skin cancer, especially melanoma, is on the rise especially among women in their 20s because they went to tanning salons in their teenage years.”

Scott: Other studies have found the risk of melanoma goes up 75% when tanning bed use begins before the age of 30. It is a risk Nicole knows all too well. After emergency surgery, she was left with a 6-inch scar on her back, and she was ordered to visit the doctor every three months to make sure the cancer didn’t come back.

Scott Evans, Channel One News.


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