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New Study Says Purported Melanoma Epidemic is Vastly Overstated

British Journal of Dermatology study blames physician misdiagnosis as the likely cause of apparent uptick in melanoma cases

WASHINGTON, June 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A newly released study in the June 2009 British Journal of Dermatology that reviews data from a 13-year period in the eastern United Kingdom has concluded that the much-hyped melanoma "epidemic" is unlikely to be real.

The study attributed the increase in melanoma diagnoses to heightened sensitivity and caution on the side of doctors in classifying benign tumors as melanoma. "Dermatologists, pathologists and other medical practitioners have become more cautious in the last two decades, as the consequences of a wrong diagnosis have become more pervasive," the authors wrote in their analysis of the data.

"[T]he present findings make it extremely unlikely that the reported large increase in the incidence of melanoma is real," the authors concluded.

The increase in reported cases was found almost entirely in Stage 1 melanoma, an early stage of the cancer. Patients treated for Stage 1 have the highest survival rate over time as compared to later stages. However, the study found that the overall mortality rate from melanoma only increased slightly over the period.

The study's authors strongly cautioned against creating panic and excessive anxiety about melanoma rates. "Until the necessary research is done, and the true story is established...encouragement of public anxiety about a melanoma epidemic and excessive avoidance of solar exposure for its prevention is unjustifiable."

"For years the Dermatology and sun-scare community -- typically people who are positioned to make a profit by scaring people away from Ultraviolet (UV) light -- have been using increased melanoma rates as 'proof' that people ought to stay out of the sun," said John Overstreet, Executive Director of the Indoor Tanning Association. "However, as this new study illustrates, their sun-abstinence message continues to be without basis. This new information, in addition to all of the new evidence about the health benefits of Vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), should make people rethink their fear of UV light."

The study's authors also warned that the changes in diagnosis standards have created unnecessary costs on society and individuals. "It may have resulted in unnecessary excisions, health care and insurance costs, let alone the problems and anxieties given to patients and their families," the authors wrote.

To schedule an interview, contact Sarah Longwell at 202.420.7865. To learn more about melanoma scares, go to To read the abstract of the British Journal of Dermatology study, visit

The Indoor Tanning Association represents thousands of indoor tanning manufacturers, distributors, facility owners and members from other support industries. The ITA promotes a responsible message about moderate tanning and sunburn prevention.

SOURCE Indoor Tanning Association
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