A current study led by Dr. Farhad Islami of the American Cancer Society, published this week in the International Journal of Cancer, revealed Minnesota is 4th highest state in the U.S. for highest melanoma rates. This comes as a surprise to some since Minnesota is northern, landlocked and has a lower UV index than much of the country. Only Utah, Vermont and Delaware top Minnesota in the number of UV-attributable melanoma cases per 100,000 people.
The vast majority of melanoma cases come from exposure to UV light like the sun or tanning beds. But why is that such a problem for Minnesota, where cold months are so long? Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Joe Shaffer remarked that it was hard to know for sure, “…but it’s likely due to a combination of the pale skin of all our residents of Scandinavian descent, combined with the fact that we are all so keen to go out in the sun once summer finally hits.” Dr. Shaffer should know. As a doctor who specializes in Mohs surgery, he’s performed more than 30,000 skin cancer procedures.
Melanoma is the most deadly skin cancer and the results of this study should serve as a wake-up call to Minnesotans. Dermatologists have been warning for years that tanning beds are dangerous to your health and in 2014 Minnesota banned the use of tanning beds for minors. All tanning, including tanning done outdoors, damages your skin and puts you at a much greater risk of skin cancer. Daily UV protection is a vital, ongoing defense against all skin cancers especially during warmer months when we spend so much time outdoors. Broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and clothing that shields your skin from the sun are must-haves. Learn about melanoma defense and detection from our doctors at Dermatology Consultants.