The study was focused on non-Hispanic white women, a demographic that has seen a dramatic increase in the rate of melanoma. Using data from the California Cancer Registry, the U.S. Census and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the researchers looked at 3,800 women who had been diagnosed with 3,842 cases of malignant melanoma. The data was examined in two time periods, 1988 to 1992 and 1998 to 2002.
The Los Angeles Times reports the following findings:
- Teens and women in the top 20% of socioeconomic status (SES) were six times more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than their counterparts in the bottom 20%.
- Among teens and women who lived in neighborhoods with the most UV radiation exposure, the rate of melanoma diagnosis was 73% higher for those in the top 20% of SES compared with those in the bottom 20%.
- Among teens and women who lived in neighborhoods with a middling amount of UV exposure, the rate of melanoma diagnosis was nearly three times higher for those in the top 20% of SES compared with those in the bottom 20%.
- For teens and women in the bottom 40% of SES, melanoma rates were essentially flat over the course of the study. For all other groups, the rate of diagnosis rose between the 1998-1992 period and the 1998-2002 period.
The researchers explain that it’s likely women with higher incomes participate in more activities that expose them to UV rays, including beach vacations, visiting tanning salons, or simply more outside leisure time.
The study is available here.