Fit and Well Idaho: Gem state has one of the highest rates of skin cancer

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:32 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho has the 6th highest rate of skin cancer in the United States, with 28.1 new cases per 100,000 people.

Many would think that the warm, sunny, southern states would have the highest rate of skin cancer, but in fact, Utah, Vermont and New Hampshire have the highest rates of the disease.

“Even beyond the skin that is exposed to the sun, other skin on our body is at very high risk for getting cancer,” said Melanie Gonzales, a program coordinator with St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Skin cancer is caused by exposure to UV light, such as the sun’s rays or a tanning bed.

It is not known for certain why skin cancer rates are so high in the gem state, but it could be because of the amount of time spent outside for either work or recreation. It could also be the failure to protect your skin while outdoors.

“Wearing long sleeves and wide-brimmed hats, those are the best options, but as we all know it gets hot we don’t want to be covered up all the time, so the next best thing to do is to put sunscreen on,” said Lauren Nesbit, a family medicine physician with St. Luke’s Magic Valley.

Sunscreen should be put on 15 minutes before going outside, and re-applied every 2 hours.

“Anything above SPF 30 will be sufficient for good sun protection,” said Nesbit.

Skin cancer can appear anywhere on your body that has skin, even in places like the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

“The scalp is one of them, people often can not see their scalp, so they can’t look at it to see if the skin is burned or an unusual growth, or a mole that is getting bigger or changing color,” said Gonzales.

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