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Melanoma Rates Continue to Rise in Young Women

Posted: July 11, 2008

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Although better diagnosis cannot be ruled out, Ahmedin Jemal of the American Cancer Society said the increase was probably real. He noted that young women are more likely than young men to use sunscreens, which ironically lead to more sun exposure. "They may feel more protected and so stay in the sun for a longer time," he said.

C. William Hanke, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, said the findings should serve as a reminder to young women about the dangers of unprotected outdoor sun exposure and indoor tanning. "The take-home message is: Unprotected outdoor ultraviolet exposure is dangerous," Hanke said. "Ultraviolet radiation is a carcinogen. If you bathe your skin in the ultraviolet light carcinogen long enough, skin cancer is going to develop."

The tanning salon industry disputes assertions that indoor tanning is playing a role, saying the increase in diagnoses may be the result of better screening. The industry also challenges assertions that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma. "For people to talk about indoor tanning as a cause of melanoma shows they haven't looked at the science on the subject," said Sarah Longwell, a spokeswoman for the Indoor Tanning Association. "It's shocking to make such a claim. There has been no scientific studies that show that indoor tanning causes melanoma. It's almost a reckless claim. It's an overt effort to slander the indoor tanning industry."

By Rob Stein, WashingtonPost.com, July 11, 2008