NO… sunbathing is not behind the rise in melanoma rates

Rather than parroting anti-tanning talking points, here’s a ray of light the Richmond Times-Dispatch can catch.

The Times-Dispatch implies that people should avoid tanning because of a “rise in melanoma rates.”

But while more melanoma is being diagnosed today than, say, 30 years ago, this is most likely due to heightened skin cancer awareness causing more diagnoses AND misdiagnoses of melanoma.

The misdiagnoses arises from benign skin lesions getting misclassified and treated as Stage 1 melanoma. Over the same period of time, the death rate from melanoma has been steady among whites and has actually declined among young white women (see chart), according to data from the National Cancer Institute.


There is simply no evidence that sunbathing is driving any sort of change in the incidence of melanoma.

One thought on “NO… sunbathing is not behind the rise in melanoma rates”

  1. Anyone know what the trend in tanning rates has been over the last 20 years? It seems to not be a popular thing to do and outdoor public pools are generally disappearing for various all-weather and budgetary considerations. Tanning spas were more popular in my area 10 years ago. Less of it in backyards as well. Use of sunscreen is also much more prevalent. Level or decreased tanning and increased use of sunscreen botth correlated with increased diagnoses?

    Interesting example of awareness / fear heightening the perception of the presence and seriousness of a *potentially* serious problem. All about potential threat. More subject to study than CO2 awareness and possibly useful in understanding the effect of directed (fearful) awareness.

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