Skin cancer in millennials, particularly millennial men is on an alarming rise. Young men between ages 15-39 account for two-thirds of melanoma deaths in the US.
Why are we seeing this increase in skin cancer among millennials?
Some experts say it’s this generation’s love of tanning and living in the moment that’s contributing to the increased number of skin cancer diagnoses. According to a 2018 Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) survey, more than half of millennials believe tanning makes a person appear more healthy and attractive. Couple this penchant for tanning with millennials’ lifestyle-first mindset and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a generation plagued by skin cancer.
Millennials’ disregard for routine healthcare visits also contributes to their increased risk of skin cancer. One in three millennials doesn’t have a regular primary care provider or schedule routine checkups. In a previous study, millennials were also found to be less healthy than generation X.
Men are at an even greater risk for skin cancer because they live a riskier lifestyle than women. They also tend to take their shirts off in direct sunlight to cool off, in turn exposing their skin to harmful UV rays. However, women make up the larger portion of the 31 percent of millennials who say they use the tanning salon for baseline tanning.
What Millennials and Other Generations Can Do to Lower Their Risk of Skin Cancer
The first thing millennials can do to lower their risk is to start caring more about the long-term consequences of tanning. Millennials’ tendencies to live in the moment without considering risks is a major contributing factor to the growing number of skin cancer cases among their age group.
Luckily, millennials can start lowering their risk of skin cancer by making the following changes to their lifestyle:
Avoid tanning beds at all times and take these three steps each day to protect the skin:
- Wear sunscreen every time you go outside. Apply at least 15 minutes before going outdoors to give the sunscreen time to absorb into the skin.
- Wear protective clothing when you’re going to be outdoors for an extended period. You can even purchase UV-safe clothing for added protection. Don’t forget your wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses!
- Take shade and avoid being outside during the hottest part of the day. Keep an umbrella handy in case you need to create your own shade.
In addition to taking steps to protect skin from cancer-producing UV rays, millennials should schedule yearly wellness checkups with a primary care provider and annual skin screenings with a dermatologist. Your primary care provider can refer you to a dermatologist in your area when you visit them for your wellness exam.
EliteCare is open for walk-in primary care visits seven days a week. Visit us Monday through Friday from 8 am until 6 pm, Saturdays from 8 am to 3 pm, or on Sundays between 1 pm and 5 pm.