With incidence rates of melanoma rising for at least 30 years, it is not surprising that new research suggests that 5 or more blistering sunburns experienced before the age of 20 could increase melanoma risk by 80%.
A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention (CEBP) proposes that in a cohort of 108,916 white women, those who had a minimum of 5 severe sunburn incidents between the ages of 15 and 20 had an increased risk of all skin cancers.
With a lifetime risk of 2% (1 in 50), melanoma is more than 20 times more common in white Americans than African-Americans.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer, accounting for nearly half of all cancer cases in the US. Although melanoma skin cancer accounts for less than 2% of these cases, it is more aggressive than other skin cancers and accounts for more than 9,700 of the nearly 13,000 skin cancer deaths each year.
The American Cancer Society estimates that 76,100 new melanomas (about 43,890 in men and 32,210 in women) will be diagnosed in the US in 2014 and 9,710 people (about 6,470 men and 3,240 women) are expected to die of the disease.
The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA, uses 20 years of collected data from the Nurses’ Health Study II, which targeted female nurses between the ages of 25 and 42 years across 14 states in 1989.