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Young, Rich and at Greater Risk for Skin Cancer

Posted: March 25, 2011

A new study published March 21 found that wealthy young women are more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer, than their less-privileged counterparts. Regardless of how much money you have in your bank account, here's what you need to know to reel in your risks (and your time in the sun).

The study looked at wealthy young American women and teens in California and found them to be nearly six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than less wealthy women and teens. Experts point to the fact that wealthy women have more leisure time to spend on the beach, and more money to invest in tanning salons, two factors that increase risks of skin cancer.

Since melanoma rates are soaring among young women, regardless of status or wealth, experts advise screening for melanoma for teens as young as 15 years old. Anyone with fair skin, a lot of moles, or who has spent a lot of time in the sun during their lifetime should check for melanoma, which can be quickly identified, but when ignored is deadly.

To help clients perform self-exams, it is best to have a mirror and a flashlight, or a loved one to help them. If you see any of the irregularities listed below in moles or spots on your skin, consult a dermatologist. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) touts the following ABCDEs for self-screening for melanoma:

If you are uncomfortable doing the self-exam, have a health professional do it. Also a number of clinics conduct free screenings, especially during the warmer months, to promote skin cancer detection and prevention awareness.