CDC: Young Adults Ignoring Skin-Cancer Warnings
ATLANTA (AP) - The warnings about skin cancer from too much sun don’t seem to be getting through.
Half of U.S. adults under 30 say they have had a sunburn at least once in the previous year - about the same as a decade ago, according to a government survey released Thursday. In fact, the modest progress reported five years ago has been wiped out.
Not only that, but women in their 20s are going to tanning salons almost twice a month on average.
"I don’t know that we’re making any headway," said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer.
Experts say that even one blistering burn can double the risk of developing melanoma, an often lethal form of skin cancer.
The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was based on a 2010 survey of about 5,000 U.S. adults ages 18 to 29.
The share of those who said they had a sunburn in the preceding year dropped from about 51 percent in 2000 to 45 percent in 2005, then went back up to 50 percent in 2010.
Researchers don’t know for sure why the sunburn rate picked up again, said Dr. Marcus Plescia, director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control.
The CDC found that more than one-third of those surveyed said they use sunscreen when they are out in the sun - a modest increase from 2005. But some experts said the increasing rate of sunburns suggests many people are not putting on enough sunscreen or are not re-applying it adequately.
Also on Thursday, the CDC released a survey on the use of tanning beds, booths or sun lamps, and Lichtenfeld said of the findings: "I am astounded."
While about 6 percent of adults of all ages said they had done indoor tanning in the previous year, the rates were much, much higher among young white women: about 32 percent among those ages 18 to 21.
Also, women in their 20s said they tanned indoors more than 20 times in the previous year, on average.
A similar survey in 2005 found about 27 percent of young women said they had done indoor tanning.
Several experts said there is no longer significant scientific debate that indoor tanning causes cancer. In 2009, tanning devices were classified as carcinogenic by the World Health Organization, which analyzed 20 studies and found the risk of melanoma rose 75 percent in people who started indoor tanning before age 30.
"It’s not a question of whether tanning beds cause cancer anymore. We’ve been able to prove that," said Dr. Jerry Brewer, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist and researcher.