Young, Wealthy, And White Women At Highest Risk For MelanomaS

The young, white, female and upper-middle-class are more likely to get skin cancer. Or, in cable news parlance, your beach vacation may kill you.

That's the takeaway from a new study of 3,800 white California girls and women, ages 15-39, who were diagnosed with melanoma. The socioeconomic status of the women was determined using census data on the household incomes and education levels of the women's respective neighborhoods. While so-called lifestyle cancers tend to affect lower-income populations, the study found that wealthier women had a far higher incidence of melanoma. "In the wealthiest 20 percent of California neighborhoods, four or five out of 100,000 young white women were diagnosed with melanoma over the 5-year period from 1998 to 2002. For the poorest group, the rate was less than one in 100,000 over the same period," according to MSNBC.

Lighter-skinned people are more likely to develop melanoma, but darker skin doesn't make you immune. Because non-whites are less likely to be diagnosed early, they are more likely to die of melanoma.) Some more sobering facts from the American Academy of Dermatology Association:

Melanoma is increasing faster in young women than in young men, and a major difference in behavior is that women are more likely to use indoor tanning beds. Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning. Melanoma is now the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old, and is the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old. In addition, melanoma is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than in males in the same age group.

Blame your pop-culture tanning evangelist of choice — Snooki, Katy Perry, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan. Or John McCain! Who had melanoma himself, and was unable to stop the implementation of the tanning bed tax he opposed.

Melanoma Rates May Be Higher For The Rich [WebMD]
Melanoma Rates Higher In Wealthy White Women [MSNBC]