WASHINGTON -- College-aged women in the Midwest are the most likely group of Americans to hit the tanning salon, US health officials said Thursday, warning of the cancer risks linked to the common beauty routine.
Almost half (44 percent) of white women aged 18-21 in the Midwest reported indoor tanning in the past year, according to a study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That is compared to 32 percent of all white women in that age group in the US who used sunbeds in the past 12 months, with an average of 28 visits.
Diagnoses of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, have been rising sharply among young people in the US, and the CDC warned that tanning beds could be to blame. Indoor tanning before the age of 35 increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
And a separate study published last month in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found the rate of melanoma incidents for women under 40 jumped more than eight times over the past four decades.
The CDC also found a surprisingly higher rate of indoor tanning among adults with a family history of skin cancer, which, the authors wrote, "suggests that the dangers of indoor tanning might not be understood fully, the known risks might not discourage the behavior, or both."
Outside tanning salons, Americans are also putting themselves at risk for skin cancer from unprotected sun exposure.
About 50 percent of all adults and 65.6 percent of white Americans aged 18 to 29 reported at least one sunburn in the past year, another CDC report published Thursday found.
These high numbers come despite an increase in protective behaviors such as sunscreen use, seeking shade and wearing long sleeves and long pants to cover up from the sun, the CDC said.
The health agency said continued public health efforts are needed to spread awareness about the risk for skin cancer, which costs an estimated $1.7 billion to treat and results in $3.8 billion in lost productivity.