South Africa has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world after Australia.

In this American study, an eightfold increase in melanoma was reported in women between 1970 and 2009, while rates in men quadrupled in the same time period, said researchers from the US Mayo Clinic who studied medical record of patients in the Minnesota country.

No such thing as a healthy tan

“There is no such thing as a healthy baseline tan,” said lead investigator Jerry Brewer, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist Brewer.

“Even though young people have more of an understanding of the detrimental effects of tanning they are still not changing their behaviour and they are tanning just as much or more as they did way back in the ’80s.”

Although the current study did not focus on reasons for the increase, Brewer said in a SAPA report that other researchers have found that people who use indoor tanning beds are 74% more likely to get melanoma than non-tanners.

“One possible explanation for this rapid increase in cases of melanoma may be the use of indoor tanning beds in teens and young adults, which has become so popular in recent years,” said Jennifer Stein, a dermatologist at New York University Langone Medical Centre, who was not involved with the study.

Doctors urge people to limit sun exposure, use sunscreen, and check moles for the ABCDEs: asymmetry, a border that is blurred or irregular, colours that are varied within the same mole, a diameter of more than a pencil eraser, and elevation or evolution – signs that the mole is raised or is changing shape.

Source: Sapa/AFP


  • Health-e News

    Health-e News is South Africa's dedicated health news service and home to OurHealth citizen journalism. Follow us on Twitter @HealtheNews