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Despite the Risks, Americans Are Still Sun-Worshippers

tanning-bed
whatshername, Flickr

According to a recently-released government survey, all those warnings about skin cancer don’t seem to be having much of an impact (just ask tanorexic mom Patricia Krentcil).

Numbers from 2010 show half of adults under 30 had least one sunburn in the previous year, and women in their 20s still visit tanning salons about twice a month.

The CDC survey of 5,000 Americans between 18 and 29 years old showed that while a third of the respondents said they use sunscreen, the rates of sunburn prove they either aren’t applying it properly or often enough.

And since just one bad burn can double the risk of developing melanoma, an often lethal form of skin cancer, experts are concerned. The rates of melanoma, which most often affects white individuals, are climbing — in 1975, there were 10 cases per 100,000 people, while in 2009, there were 24 per 100,000.

As for tanning beds, Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer, is “astounded” by how many people still use them. A World Health Organization analysis of 20 studies showed the risk of melanoma rose 75 percent among those who started indoor tanning before age 30.

But Joseph Levy, executive director of International Smart Tan Network, said that finding was based on old and flawed studies, adding, “Saying categorically that (ultraviolet light) exposure is harmful and should be avoided is like saying that water causes drowning, and therefore we should avoid water. It’s a totally misleading oversimplification.”

[Associated Press]

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