If you were to take a guess at which states are most prone to skin cancer, you might suspect warm, sunny states like California, Texas, or Arizona.
You’d be wrong. According to a study of Centers for Disease Control data on melanoma, the opposite is true. In fact, Texas had the lowest incidence of new skin cancer cases in the 2016 statistics used in the study by Quote Wizard by Lending Tree, a website that compares premiums for various forms of insurance, including health and life insurance.
Tennessee is ranked 42. In addition to Texas, other states in the bottom 10 are Wyoming (40), Virginia (41), Missouri (43), Nevada (44), New York and Mississippi (tied for 45), Louisiana (47), New Mexico (48) and Alaska (49).
States with the highest rate of new melanoma cases were actually northern, colder weather states like Utah (1), Vermont (2), and Minnesota (3).
How is it that states with some of the lowest amount of UV exposure have the highest rates of melanoma?
The cause is likely due to the risk factors associated with skin cancer. One of the biggest risk factors in developing melanoma is sunburns. Severe sunburns damage the DNA of skin cells causing new skin cells to grow out of control and become cancerous. The higher rate of melanoma cases in the northern, cold-weather states could very well be due to a higher rate of sunburns compared to southern, warmer states.
Skin care and sun protection behavioral habits of people in the northern states compared to southern states could be the difference in melanoma rates.
Being in long sleeves and pants most of the year, people in northern states are excited to shed down into shorts and short sleeves when the seasons change, and not in the habit of daily sun protection.
Men have a rate of 28.4 new melanoma cases, compared to 17.7 per 100,000 women. The likely causes of men being disproportionately affected go back to sunscreen usage and work environments. CDC’s Consumer HealthStyles survey found fewer than 15% of men reported sunscreen use compared to 30% of women.