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Nonmelanoma skin cancer is the most common cancer, while less common, melanoma is the deadliest skin cancer.
Many young adults are increasing their risk of skin cancer by getting sunburns and using indoor tanning, according to two studies published in “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.”
The studies were based on data from National Health Interview Survey. The first study used data from several surveys to track sun protective behaviors among young adults ages 18 to 29. While sun protective behaviors, such as using sunscreen, using shade, and wearing long clothing to the ankles, have increased in recent years, there was no decrease in the proportion of young adults who reported getting a sunburn in the previous 12 months.
In 2010, 50.1% of the young adults reported getting sunburned. Sunburn was highest among whites (65.6%) and lowest among blacks (11%). Among women, sunscreen (37.1%) and staying in the shade (34.9%) were the most commonly reported sun protective behaviors, while among men the most common behaviors were wearing long clothing to the ankles (32.9%), staying in the shade (25.6%), and using sunscreen (15.6%).
The second study based on data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey described the use of indoor tanning devices among U.S. adults. Young adults, young women, and especially young, white women, were more likely to use indoor tanning devices than other adults. Among the general adult population 5.6% reported the use of indoor tanning devices at least once in 2010, compared to 12.3% of young adults 18-25 years of age, 8.9% of women, and 12.9% of white women.
The highest prevalence of use was found among white women, ages 18 and 25, living in the Midwest or South.
Up to 44% of white women, ages 18-21, who lived in the Midwest reported that they used indoor tanning devices. Younger white women reported the most frequent use of these devices.