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Skin Cancer On Rise In Young Adults

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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The rate of skin cancer among young adults is skyrocketing, according to new research.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on why doctors think this is happening.

Ten of thousands of Americans are diagnosed with the most deadly skin cancer, melanoma, each year.  Now a new study shows the number of cases are escalating higher than previously thought, and young women are the hardest hit.

Some people just got to have that golden glow, but it can come at a cost.  Studies show people who use tanning beds, mostly young women, are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma.

“The reality is these tanning beds are dangerous.  We have no UV protection when we go in the beds.  We’re essentially right next to this strong beam,” said Dr. Daniel Lazowick, an Internal Medicine Specialist at Lankenau Medical Center.

The new study from the Mayo Clinic looked at patients between the ages of 18 to 39-years-old.  It found the incidence of melanoma increased eight-fold among young women and four-fold among young men from 1970 to 2009.

“I was surprised that despite all of this the rates of melanoma are still rising because I would think people would have taken precautions,” said Dr. Lazowick.

Researchers say they found an even higher incidence of melanoma than the National Cancer Institute had reported, particularly a dramatic rise among people in their 20s and 30s.

“I think vanity trumps fear.  I think people just want to feel good about themselves.  They also think for a few minutes how bad could it be,” said Dr. Lazowick.

Childhood sunburns were also believed to increase the risk of melanoma.

Researchers also found mortality rates from melanoma have improved.  They believe early detection of skin cancer and prompt medical care is helping.

RELATED LINKS:
Skin Cancer Study- http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/
Skin Cancer Information- http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skincancer.html