Response to CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on Sunburn and Sun Protection Behaviors, Indoor Tanning Bed Use

New York, NY (May 11, 2012)  - A fundamental part of The Skin Cancer Foundation’s mission is to educate the public about skin cancer and its prevention by means of sun protection, and the CDC’s findings cement the importance of our mission.

Skin cancer incidence can be dramatically reduced through preventive behaviors and early detection. While the report found that U.S. adults are increasingly turning to sun protective behaviors to defend against skin cancer, most are not protecting themselves often enough. In fact, 50 percent of people aged 18-29 surveyed by the CDC reported at least one sunburn in the past year. This is particularly alarming given the fact that a person’s risk for melanoma doubles if he or she has had more than five sunburns at any age.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has always recommended that everyone, regardless of skin color, incorporate sun protection into their daily lifestyle. Proper sun protection should include seeking shade, covering up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses, as well as daily sunscreen use.

In addition, the CDC reports that nearly 32 percent of white women aged 18-21 years use tanning machines. The Foundation strongly discourages tanning bed use, as the cumulative damage caused by UV radiation-emitting tanning devices can lead to skin cancer, including the potentially deadly melanoma.  In fact, a recent study by the Mayo Clinic found that melanoma incidence among young women over the past 40 years increased 8-fold. The authors of the Mayo Clinic study believe this increase is linked to the prevalent use of tanning beds, and that incidence will continue to rise in this high-risk population. 

We applaud the CDC for bringing additional attention to the world’s most common cancer, now occurring at epidemic levels. Our hope is that these findings further highlight the need for skin cancer awareness and education.