New study shows increase in skin cancer rates among women

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- While you may regularly wear sunscreen at a picnic or during a day at the beach, it's not likely you slather on the sunscreen for a day at work. A new study might convince you to start.

Two types of skin cancer are on the rise among women, according to a report published by Mayo Clinic. The rate of new cases of squamous cell carcinoma rose 263 percent among women between 2000 and 2010 and rose 145 percent in the general population.

Dr. Rachel Laarman, a pediatric dermatologist from Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, believes the rise in skin cancer cases stems back to indoor tanning beds. "Tanning beds became popular and as people were seeking indoor tanning year round they were increasing their UV exposure dramatically and that really impacted the skin cancer rates," she said.

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and melanoma is the most dangerous.

Dr. Laarman recommends that parents begin protecting their kids against the sun now, because in most people's lifetime they receive about 70 percent of UV exposure before they are 20.

Laarman says you should be applying sunscreen every two hours and immediately after swimming or sweating. Make sure you use sunscreen that says broad spectrum coverage and SPF 30 or higher.

Here are some signs of skin cancer to watch for: spots on skin that may not be healing, a new mole or one that isn't symmetric, or a mole that has red, white or blue in it.

It's not just our skin to be concerned about; it's also important to protect your eyes from UV rays. You should wear sunglasses that block UV rays whenever you are outside, according to the National Eye Institute. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a tag or label that says you are getting 100 percent protection against but UVA and UVB rays, and buy from a reputable retailer.

Experts also suggest wearing the largest pair of sunglasses possible, to protect eyelids and surrounding skin.

Sunglasses with polarization is not necessary, just an added benefit.

Keep in mind UV radiation can go through windows, causing skin damage even when you're indoors.

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1 Comment

  • Marc Sorenson

    Many articles on sunbeds ignore important facts. Everyone assumes that they have no redeeming value, which is incorrect. A 20-year study demonstrated that both sun exposure and sunbed exposure reduced the risk of death; women who used tanning beds were 23% less likely to die of all causes than women who did not use them. Here are more well-documented health-promoting effects of sunbeds:
    • Sunbed use is associated with increased vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is essential to human health.
    • Sunbed use is associated to lower breast-cancer risk.
    • Sunbed use is associated with stronger bones.
    • Sunbed use can cure psoriasis and eczema and sunbeds are often recommended by dermatologists.
    • Sunbed use more than three times yearly is associated with a 40-50% reduced risk of endometrial cancer.
    • Sunbed use is associated with a reduced risk of clots.
    •Sunbeds can also help to build a protective tan, which prevents sun damage during sunny vacations.
    To learn more, and to read all of the scientific documentation regarding sunbeds and sun exposure, visit the sunlight institute at

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