Many young Americans risk skin cancer from annual sunburns

July 16, 2002

The annual sunburn is still a tradition for many Americans, with nearly 60 percent of young adults reporting at least one sunburn in the past year, according to a new study.

Sun damage is the leading preventable cause of both the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, and of the most common forms, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, occurring in more than 1 million Americans annually. Sunburn represents severe skin damage and has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.

In fact, states that had high rates of sunburn in this study correlated with high rates of melanoma deaths based on data gathered by the National Cancer Institute, says Mona Saraiya, M.D., M.P.H., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Reporting in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on data from a national survey with more than 150,000 respondents, the researchers found that 31.7 percent of Americans had been sunburned within the previous 12 months.

At 44 percent, white men were the most likely to have had at least one sunburn over the past 12 months. About 40 percent of these men reported three or more sunburns during that time. Black men and women had the lowest rates of sunburn, with about 5 percent reporting a sunburn during the past year.

There was a strong relationship between age and sunburns. While 7 percent of adults 65 and older reported being sunburned, 57.5 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 had been sunburned at least once in 12 months.

These findings complement those of a recently published study that showed that sunburn rates among teenagers, 12 to 18 years old, might go as high as 80 percent.

The researchers also identified higher rates of sunburn among people with higher education, higher income and having more children, all signs of Americans with greater affluence and possibly more leisure time in which to get sunburned.

"Such high sunburn rates for a one-year period confirm reports that extensive unprotected sun exposure is occurring among young adults," the researchers say. This early exposure is especially of concern when considering the long latency period between sun damage and the development of skin cancer.

The researchers also found substantial differences in whites' average sunburn rates among states. Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, the District of Columbia, Wyoming, Utah and Wisconsin were at the top of the list with rates ranging from 46 percent to 50 percent. The lowest rates were seen in Puerto Rico, Arizona, Tennessee, Oklahoma, New York and Florida, ranging from about 14 percent to 29 percent.

"We found a higher rate of sunburn among white adults living in the Midwest, possibly a reflection of a population that is more sun-sensitive or less likely to practice sun-safe behaviors," says Saraiya.
-end-
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Health Behavior News Service: (202) 387-2829 or www.hbns.org.
Interviews: Contact Mary Kay Sones, (770) 488-6416, msones@cdc.gov.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Contact the editorial office at (619) 594-7344.

Center for Advancing Health

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.