More White Teens Tanning, More African Americans Dying From Skin Cancer


    Researchers have found that New Jersey’s 2013 law preventing kids under the age of 17 from using tanning beds has been entirely ineffective. After indoor tanning and correlated skin cancer rates soared, legislators attempted to crack down on the dangerous practice.

    According to Elliot Coups, associate professor at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, “In 2012, 6.7% of high school students under the age of 17 reported indoor tanning in the past 12 months one or more times. In 2014, 6.9% of high school students under the age of 17 reported indoor tanning in the past year, so really the rate didn’t change.”

    In fact, the rate was even higher. Coups concluded that, “Even though the law is in place, it doesn’t mean that people won’t try and indoor tan.”

    Of course, teens can always get their UV fix outdoors in this summer’s sweltering heat. Rooftop tanning may not be as prevalent now that indoor tanning has made the process so much quicker and less sweaty. However, with today’s Energy Star roof products, roof surface temperatures are lowered by up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making outdoor tanning that much more bearable, though not any safer.

    “If you look at young white women in this country, about one in three every year will report using a tanning salon. About one in five of those young white women are going 10 or more times in the past year, which is a rate that really seems to increase exponentially the risk of melanoma,” revealed Jared Stapleton, assistant professor at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

    It is important to note, though, that while more white people patronize tanning salons and have the highest incidence of melanoma, they also have higher survival rates than individuals of any other race.

    According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, researchers from Case Western Reserve University found that African Americans have the worst survival rates when it comes to skin cancer. They are also more likely to get a late-stage diagnosis, making the condition much harder to treat.

    A common misconception is that having more natural melanin protects people of color from skin cancer. Because of this myth, individuals with darker skin are less likely to see a doctor about skin abnormalities. Furthermore, researchers found that half of all dermatologists have not been trained to identify cancers on black skin.

    Ultimately, people of all ages and skin colors should remember that it is essential to wear sunscreen. Thanks to the popularity of tanning and the slow depletion of the protective ozone layer, skin cancer rates have more than tripled since 1975.