CDC Reports High-Risk Behaviors for Skin Cancer is Actually Increasing in Young Adults

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In 2008, 59,695 people were diagnosed with melanomas of the skin, and 8,623 people died from it. CDC leads national efforts to reduce skin cancer through education. When in the sun, seek shade, cover up, get a hat, wear sunglasses, and use sunscreen.

The CDC recently issued a press release indicating how common high-risk behavior for skin cancer are among young adults. Half of adults under age 30 report being sunburn in the last year.

Young adults are increasing their risk for developing skin cancer, according to two studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

One study, of people aged 18-29, found that 50% reported at least one sunburn in the past year, despite an increase in protective behaviors such as sunscreen use, seeking shade, and wearing long clothing to the ankles. Another report found that indoor tanning is common among young adults, with the highest rates of indoor tanning among white women aged 18-21 years (32%) and 22-25 years (30%).

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, and melanoma is the most deadly type of skin cancer.  Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from indoor tanning equipment is the most important preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Indoor tanning before age 35 increases a person’s risk of getting melanoma by 75%. Sunburn indicates too much exposure to ultraviolet radiation.

Protect yourself from ultraviolet light exposure that could lead to skin cancer:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
  • Wear clothing to protect exposed skin.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shade the face, head, ears, and neck.
  • Wear wrap-around sunglasses that block as close to 100 percent of ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays as possible.  Sunglasses safeguard your eyes from UVA and UVB rays, protect the tender skin around your eyes from sun exposure, and reduce the risk of cataracts and ocular melanoma.
  • Use sunscreen with sun protective factor 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection.
  • Avoid indoor tanning.

For more CDC skin cancer prevention tips, visit

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