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Melanoma has also been increasing for at least three decades. Among whites, who have the highest incidence of the disease, the rate climbed from around 10 cases per 100,000 people in 1975 to more than 24 per 100,000 in 2009.
About 76,000 melanoma cases will be diagnosed in U.S. adults this year, and about 9,200 people are expected to die of the disease, according to the cancer society. The rates for other skin cancers have been rising as well.
The CDC's Plescia said tanning beds are driving "an epidemic in the making."
Others shared that concern.
"It's the sunburn you got when you were 18 that leads to the cancer you get when you're 40. That sunburn will come back to haunt you," warned Dr. Zoe Draelos, vice president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Clearly, many people have recognized the risks of tanning.
Witness the public revulsion last month over the case of a deeply bronzed New Jersey woman arrested for allegedly taking her 5-year-old daughter into a tanning booth. Police said the kindergartner suffered a burn. (The mother denied taking her into the booth and said the girl got sunburned outdoors.)
To be safe, experts say to avoid direct sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or cover your body. And sunscreen needs to be applied often.
But who listens?
Danielle Itgen, 22, said skin cancer runs in her family but she still likes to sunbathe in the summer -- while wearing sunscreen. "I feel like when I'm really pale, I look sick," she said during a visit to Miami Beach, Fla.
Elizabeth Garrido, 40, used to sunbathe every day when she was younger and still goes to the beach twice a week to soak up the rays.
Does she worry about skin cancer?
"Not at all," the Miami Beach resident said. "What's going to happen is going to happen. Besides, I like the beach. It's therapeutical."
CDC reports: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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