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Monday, April 12, 2021

As the summer sun heats up, so do the rates of Americans with skin cancer.

Skin cancer problems continue to grow, according to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although older adults still make up a larger age group for skin cancer, it is the second most common cancer in adults aged 20-30 years old, said Dr. Miranda Whitmer, a dermatologist at Gainesville Dermatology & Skin Surgery and a member of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Medical experts are starting to detect the correlation between young people contracting skin cancer and the use of tanning beds, she said.

Some UF students have noticed that many apartment complexes in Gainesville offer free tanning beds to its residents.

“When I signed my lease with The Grove, I noticed one of the selling points was the free tanning beds there,” said Ryan Ferguson, a 19-year-old UF business administration sophomore.

Although there are not definitive statistics on using tanning beds yet, ultraviolet rays drastically increase one’s chances of developing melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, Whitmer said.

This ready accessibility of tanning beds is catering to young people in Gainesville, Whitmer said. However, dermatologists around the world are working to create regulations on tanning beds.

In most of Australia, tanning beds are already illegal, Whitmer said. Across the U.S., dermatologists are looking for ways to better regulate the use of tanning beds altogether.

Applying sunscreen every time one plans on being outside is essential to protecting one’s skin, Whitmer said. This especially applies to student athletes who spend hours outside at practice, such as Ferguson, who said he has fair skin and gets sunburned easily.

Although the football player said he wears sunscreen when he goes to the beach, he often forgets to apply it before practice.

“I don’t really see any of my teammates using sunscreen during our practices, even though we probably should,” Ferguson said.

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[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 6/11/15]

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