Half of young adults have gotten at least one sunburn over the last year, which is a risk factor for skin cancer, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Researchers also found that 32 percent of white women between the ages of 18 and 21 and 30 percent of white women between ages 22 and 25 participate in indoor tanning. The ultraviolet radiation that comes from indoor tanning (as well as from the sun) is a known cause of cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
Indoor tanning use in people under the age of 35 is known to be linked with a 75 percent increased melanoma risk, the researchers reported. Melanoma is an extremely dangerous form of skin cancer, and is the No. 1 cause of death from skin disease.
"More public health efforts, including providing shade and sunscreen in recreational settings, are needed to raise awareness of the importance of sun protection and sunburn prevention to reduce the burden of skin cancer," Dr. Marcus Plescia, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, said in a statement. "We must accelerate our efforts to educate young adults about the dangers of indoor tanning to prevent melanoma as this generation ages."
White women ages 18 to 21 who indoor tanned in the study visited a tanning salon an average of 28 times in a year, researchers found. Women of this demographic who live in the Midwest and the South were the most likely to tan (44 percent and 36 percent, respectively), according to the study.
For men between ages 18 and 29, the most common way they protected their bodies from the sun was by wearing clothes that covered their bodies, all the way down to their ankles (33 percent of them did this), while 26 percent of them kept in the shade, the study said.
For women ages 18 to 29, the most common way they protected their bodies from the sun was by using sunscreen (37 percent did this). Thirty-five percent of them kept in the shade. The researchers also found that black women were less likely to use sunscreen than others, and white women were less likely to keep under the shade than others.
Sunburn was also the most common in white people, with 66 percent of white adults between ages 18 to 29 reporting sunburn, compared with 11 percent of black adults of the same age.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 36 states have restrictions on minors' use of tanning beds. California has a completely prohibition of tanning-bed use by people younger than 18.
Earlier this week, on "Melanoma Monday," an American Academy of Dermatology survey showed that only about half of all U.S. adults know how to spot the signs of skin cancer.
The survey also showed that 74 percent of people didn't know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., and 30 percent were unaware or weren't sure about how easy it is to treat skin cancer if it's found early on.
To protect yourself from UV rays, the CDC recommends that people try to stay in the shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m, wear clothes that cover the skin, wear a hat to provide shade to the face and head area, wear sunglasses that block as much UV radiation as possible, wear sunscreen (SPF 15 and up, with UVA and UVB protection) and to not indoor tan.