Skin cancer rates for young women eight-times higher than in 1970, Mayo study finds

A new Mayo Clinic study found a dramatic rise in skin cancer rates among young people, with a particularly sharp increase for young women.

The study, which looked at melanoma rates for 18- to 39-year-olds in 85-percent-white Olmsted County, found that from 1970 to 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased eight-fold among women and four-fold among men. Minnesota as a whole is also roughly 85 percent white.

Though researchers didn't look at what's behind the rising cancer rates, some suggested the increase is correlated with the use of indoor tanning beds.

According to MPR, Dr. Jerry Brewer, a Mayo dermatologist who led the study, said, "we know for sure that ultra-violet radiation is linked to cancer in a big way, especially tanning bed exposure."

Who said pale skin can't be sexy anyway?
Who said pale skin can't be sexy anyway?

Brewer's observation is supported by a 2010 University of Minnesota study. That study found that people who use any type of tanning device, for any amount of time, are 74 percent more likely to develop skin cancer.

The hypothesis that use of tanning beds correlates with higher melanoma rates -- a hypothesis which, unsurprisingly, the Indoor Tanning Association denies, citing no "direct link" between tanning beds and cancer -- also explains why skin cancer rates have been rising so much faster for young women.

Says the Mayo study: "Young women are more likely than young men to participate in activities that increase risk for melanoma, including voluntary exposure to artificial sunlamps."

Since the study only looked at cancer rates through 2009, it's too early to say how much the Jersey Shore's popularization of "GTL" will contribute to rising melanoma rates for Situation-mimicking males in Rochester and the surrounding region. 

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