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2014-01-31 / News Briefs

Indoor tanning puts MN H.S. girls at risk for skin cancer

ST. PAUL – Despite warnings about the serious health dangers of indoor tanning, results from this year's Minnesota Student Survey confirm that a large percentage of Minnesota high school girls are tanning indoors. This year marks the first time questions about indoor tanning have been included in the survey which gathers information from middle school and high school students statewide.

Thirty-four percent of 11th grade white females reported they had tanned indoors in the last year, and more than half of them tanned indoors 10 or more times. "The survey underscores the importance of educating teenagers about the very real risks of tanning, one of which is increasing the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer," said Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger.

Indoor tanning beds deliver 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet (UV) radiation than natural sunlight, boosting the user's risk of developing melanoma by at least 59 percent. Indoor tanning is considered so dangerous that the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer declared UV radiation from indoor tanning as a carcinogen.

Dermatologist Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D, and president of the Minnesota Dermatological Society said "We see many young women with melanoma on their torso, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors such as indoor tanning."

Melanoma is the second most common cancer among females ages 15 to 29 years old, according to Minnesota cancer registry data. The number of non-Hispanic white women ages 20 to 49 years old diagnosed with melanoma is increasing 5 percent each year. This trend has been observed for 15 years. The number of young women diagnosed with melanoma each year has doubled in that fifteen year period.

University of Minnesota associate professor DeAnn Lazovich, a leading researcher on indoor tanning and melanoma at the School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center, describes melanoma as "a terrible cancer that can rob young adults of years of their life. Sadly, we do not know how to prevent many cancers. But, we do know that avoiding ultraviolet exposure can prevent many melanomas."

The Minnesota Department of Health is encouraging high school students to tell the truth about tanning by creating short videos to share information on the dangers of tanning. The contest, called the UVideo Challenge, begins this month. The Minnesota Dermatological Society is sponsoring cash prizes for the best 30-second videos selected by a panel of experts and online voting by peers. Videos can be submitted online until April 11, 2014. Voting on the videos will occur in April.

For more information on the UVideo Challenge, including Challenge prizes, guidelines and key dates, visit the website: www.health.state.mn.us/uvideo/.

Information on youth tanning device use in Minnesota is available at the Minnesota Public Health Data Access Web page: https://apps.health.state.mn.us/mndata/cancer_ melanoma#chart4.

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