Experts say skin cancer rates on the rise as swimsuit fashions shrink

Posted at 9:51 PM, Jul 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-09 23:51:20-04

SALT LAKE CITY – If you’re heading to the pool or a lake to beat the heat, you might want to think twice about your swimsuit.

Experts from the University of Utah say as swimsuits have gotten smaller, the number of melanoma cases has skyrocketed.

“If you look back to the 1920s, you'll see that even men were wearing these suits that would cover a lot of their legs and arms, and that was what was considered to be the attractive suit,” said Dr. Erika Summers, a dermatologist with the U of U. "Women also used to cover up a lot more as well."

Summers added: "The idea of looking beautiful in this small bathing suit actually didn't come about until the 1950s and ‘60s in the United States."

Summers said there's no doubt fashion trends, like bikinis, have contributed to more skin cancer.

"The rate has actually gone up 300 to 400 percent just between the 1930s and the 1960s, if you look at the statistics," she said.

Summers said even those who use sunscreen while enjoying the outdoors are still ending up as patients.

"Most people are only applying 25 to 50 percent of the amount of sunscreen they are supposed to to their bodies," she said.

Summers says the amount of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen you start with should be about the same size as a golf ball, and she said don't forget to spread it around.

“We see a lot of skin cancers on the tops of the ears,” she said.

She also encourages folks to compensate for their fashion choices.

“If you’re gonna wear that bikini: Sit under an umbrella, you can put it out, sit under it, wear your sunscreen, wear a hat, you'll still look really cute,” Summers said.