Tanning Troubles: NY Melanoma Rate Climbs 72 percent in 10 years

NY Teen Tan Ban Pin 2012

 

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Health Experts Say Indoor Tanning Helps Fuel Increase, Urge Lawmakers to Pass Teen Tan Ban

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Albany, NY (May 10, 2012) – New cases of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have increased sharply in New York, according to a new analysis by the American Cancer Society. In its Cancer Brief: Melanoma and Indoor Tanning, the Society details a 72 percent increase of incidence of melanoma, which coincides with a boom in the indoor tanning industry.

The Cancer Brief is available at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's Web site.

“It’s no coincidence that we’re facing a melanoma crisis at the same time there’s a proliferation of indoor tanning salons,” said Russ Sciandra, NY Director of Advocacy, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “Indoor tanning increases risk of developing cancer. Many teens don’t see their behavior as dangerous and many parents don’t fully understand what’s at stake. That’s why the Senate must act to protect minors by enacting a ban on indoor tanning for those under age 18.”

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) places tanning beds in the highest cancer risk category - group 1 - 'carcinogenic to humans'. This puts indoor tanning in the same classification as arsenic, asbestos, benzene, dioxin, mustard gas, tobacco smoke and vinyl chloride. According to the IARC, use of indoor tanning devices before the age of 30 increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

Kim Conor, a 58 year old melanoma survivor from Mechanicville, knows firsthand the pain and suffering indoor tanning can cause. "I took good care of my skin my entire life until I decided to go indoor tanning," said Conor. "I thought indoor tanning would give me a base tan, but what it gave me was melanoma. The diagnosis was devastating, and the on-going follow up care is mentally and physically exhausting. Tanning salons market their product as 'rejuvenating.' I found it quite the opposite."

Increasingly, physicians are seeing patients with cancers related to use of indoor tanning facilities.

“Every week I see many people in my office who currently are being treated for melanoma or have had melanoma in the past,” said Dr. Charles Weissman, Chief Medical Officer, American Cancer Society Capital Region Board of Advisors and Oncologist, NY Oncology Hematology. “Melanoma continues to increase dramatically in frequency and most are related to effects of ultraviolet radiation. More than 70% of tanning salon patrons are females 16-29 years of age. Indoor tanning has been shown to increase the risk of melanoma significantly, especially in younger persons under the age of 35 with potentially devastating consequences.”

The bill (S.2917) is sponsored by Senator Charles Fuschillo and has already passed in the Assembly, where it is sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg. The legislation has the support of leaders in the medical arena such as the Medical Society of the State of New York, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, The Cancer Center Leadership Group of the New York State Cancer Consortium, the American Academy of Dermatology Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Similar laws have been enacted in California and Vermont.

"The evidence on the damaging effects of indoor tanning, specifically in terms of the increase in the risk of developing skin cancer, is reliable, clear and compelling," said Nathalie Zeitouni, MD, Associate Professor of Oncology and Chief of Dermatologic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo. "What's also clear is that we should make sure children and teens aren't exposed to the potentially very serious but preventable impact of indoor tanning."

“A review of seven studies found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who had been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning before the age of 35. With the rising incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States, as well as increasing usage of tanning parlors for cosmetic purposes by the public, the medical community supports legislative and regulatory efforts to severely curb access to these devices,” said Gerard Conway, Esq., Senior Vice President and Legislative Counsel to the Medical Society of the State of New York.

“The New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians fully supports the passage of this legislation. As physician specialists in Internal Medicine, who treat adolescents and adults, we are seeing an increase in aggressive and life altering skin cancer at alarming rates. A recent report indicates an 8x increase in melanoma for women and 4x for men, and this can be associated with the increased use of tanning booths. Curbing use by those under age 18 and teaching about the long term harmful effects of tanning is a challenge we fully endorse.”

Data analyzed for the Cancer Brief was from the NYS Department of Health, State Cancer Registry 2011. In the 10 years between the periods 1994-1998 and 2004-2008, the age-adjusted annual incidence of melanoma increased from 9.2 percent to 15.8 percent, a 72 percent increase.

According to the American Cancer Society, this year about 76,250 new cases of melanoma will be diagnosed in the U.S. In New York State, it is estimated that more than 4,700 people will be diagnosed with melanoma of the skin and 440 will die of the disease.

In addition to indoor tanning, outdoor sun exposure is a significant risk factor for melanoma. For information on skin cancer prevention and early detection, visit the American Cancer Society website at cancer.org.

Additional Reading:
The Cancer Brief on Melanoma and Tanning in NY
Erie County Health Commissioner Calls for Teen Tan Ban
The Facts about Tanning
Take the Pledge to Support the Teen Tan Ban in New York
Study Links Tanning Bed Use to Increased Risk of Melanoma
ACS Researchers: Tanning Bed Use Still a Problem

 

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About the American Cancer Society
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