Study Finds Dramatic Rise in Skin Cancer Among Young Adults

Alexandra Sifferlin
Time Health

Mayo Clinic researchers report skyrocketing rates of skin cancer among young adults, probably because of their persistent use of tanning beds

As a young adult with porcelain skin — I prefer that term to pale — I get it. Bronzed skin is perpetually “in,” and nobody likes going to the beach only to have to sit under an umbrella and shield their eyes from the glare of their own upper thighs. But a new study from the Mayo Clinic finds an alarming increase in skin cancer among young adults, and the reason may be their persistent efforts to tan.

Published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the study reports that between the years 1970 and 2009, the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men ages 18 to 39. Although men generally have a higher lifetime risk of melanoma than women, the researchers found the opposite trend to be true among the young adults. “We knew we would see an increase in rates among young women, but we were surprised we saw such a dramatic increase. This seems to be higher than what has been reported previously,” said Mayo Clinic dermatologist Dr. Jerry Brewer in a teleconference.

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