Young Women at High Risk for Melanoma: April 30, 2012

“I like being tan, I think everybody does,” says Gabriella Soto-Velez.

It may be the Holy Grail for young women: achieving the perfect bronze bod.

“Socially there’s a trend, TV shows like Jersey Shore or whatever, they want to be tan and so people try to emulate that lifestyle,” says Soto-Velez.

On college campuses, the fashionable flesh tone may be ‘to die for’ but are too tan teens willing to die for it? Melanoma cases are on the rise, with young women being prime targets fro this dangerous cancer.

“The melanoma skin cancer has the greatest ability to spread to other organs and other parts of the body and when it does there’s a much higher mortality rate,” says Dr. Drew Kreegel, a plastic surgeon with Lee Memorial Health System.

Researchers analyzed decades of data and found melanoma rates in women between the ages of 18 and 34 increased eight-fold between 1970 and 2009. It’s believed a contributing factor is indoor tanning salons.

“The difference is and this is a key difference, people who use sun tan beds typically use them year round,” says Dr. Kreegel.

Skin cancers show up years after exposure, so experts advice caution in tanning and stress the importance of sunscreen.

“The best rule of thumb is to reapply it after 60 to 90 minutes,” says Dr. Kreegel.

For people who still crave the sun-kissed look, there’s nothing wrong with a fake-bake, as in spray tan.