Deadly skin cancer rates are rising

There has been a dramatic rise in skin cancer cases in women aged under 40, according to leading U.S medical researchers.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic found the incidence of melanoma increased eightfold among young women and fourfold among young men.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer and can spread rapidly.

The study looked for first-time diagnoses of melanoma in patients aged 18 to 39 living in Olmsted County, Minnesota, from 1970 to 2009.

Study leader Dr Jerry Brewer, said: ‘We anticipated we’d find rising rates, as other studies are suggesting, but we found an even higher incidence than the National Cancer Institute had reported using the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Result database, and in particular, a dramatic rise in women in their 20s and 30s.’

The lifetime risk of melanoma was found to be higher in males than females, but the opposite was true in young adults and adolescents.

Researchers also found mortality rates from the disease have improved over the years, likely due to early detection of skin cancer and prompt medical care.

‘People are now more aware of their skin and of the need to see a doctor when they see changes,’ Dr Brewer said.

‘As a result, many cases may be caught before the cancer advances to a deep melanoma, which is harder to treat.’

Skin cancer
Skin cancer

The researchers speculated that the use of indoor tanning beds is a key culprit in the rising cancer rate in young women.

‘A recent study reported that people who use indoor tanning beds frequently are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and we know young women are more likely to use them than young men,’ Dr Brewer said.

‘The results of this study emphasise the importance of active interventions to decrease risk factors for skin cancer and, in particular, to continue to alert young women that indoor tanning has carcinogenic effects that increase the risk of melanoma.’

Janey Helland, frpm Mapleton, Minnestoa, said she didn’t think of the dangers when tanning in high school and college.

‘I used tanning beds to get ready for homecoming and prom,’ she says.

‘In college, I tanned before a trip to Barbados because I didn’t want to get sunburned.’

At age 21, Ms Helland noticed an abnormal spot on her leg. It was melanoma, and the diagnosis changed her life.

‘I really didn’t know what my future was going to look like, or if I’d even have one,’ she said.

Two years later, she is cancer-free and dedicated to educating others.

‘I would advocate that it’s better to be safe than sorry,’ she said.

‘My advice is to educate yourself and research the risk factors.’

Childhood sunburns and ultraviolet exposure in adulthood may also contribute to melanoma development, the researchers say.

Don’t get stressed

As many of us know, stress can leave you feeling run down. Now scientists think they can explain why.

A study has shown how long-term stress plays havoc with the immune system, raising the odds of catching a cold.

The same process could also explain the role of traumatic events in raising the odds of illnesses from heart disease to depression.

Scientists in the U.S. questioned 176 men and women about difficult experiences they had been through in the past 12 months.

Drops of the common cold virus were then dripped into their nose and scientists checked if they caught the germ. Those who had been under stress were twice as likely to develop a cold.

Importantly, tests showed their immune systems had become less sensitive to cortisol, a stress hormone which dampens the immune system.

This allowed a part of the immune reaction called the inflammatory response to grow, leading to the symptoms of the cold, the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports.

A second experiment confirmed that the inflammatory response feeds off stress.

Inflammation, which can show itself as redness, itchiness, swelling and pain, occurs when the immune system spots an infection and is a vital first step in fending off disease.


However, when it persists, it not only raises the risk of colds but many other illnesses.


Researcher Professor Sheldon Cohen, of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, said: ‘The immune system’s ability to regulate inflammation predicts who will develop a cold, but more importantly it provides an explanation of how stress can promote disease.

‘When under stress, cells of the immune system are unable to respond to hormonal control, and consequently, produce levels of inflammation that promote disease.

‘Because inflammation plays a role in many diseases such as cardiovascular, asthma and autoimmune disorders, this model suggests why stress impacts them as well.

‘Knowing this is important for identifying which diseases may be influenced by stress and for preventing disease in chronically stressed people.’

There are also many other ways that stress can make us ill.

For instance, researchers at the London School of Economics have warned that a growing reliance on fat and salt-laden fast food and time-saving technology, coupled with long working hours, is sending blood pressure soaring.

One third of British adults already suffer from the condition which doubles the risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.

Research has also linked stress, anxiety and low self-esteem in pregnant women with an increased risk of stillbirth and with stunting a child’s intelligence.

Children from stressed pregnancies are also more likely to be hyperactive, have emotional problems and not do as they are told as well as suffering from stress themselves.