Retrospective research published in a recent issue of the American Journal of Public Health concluded that extenuating factors such as socioeconomic and fashion trends have contributed to the increase of melanoma over the past century. Believing that early diagnosis and improved reporting practices do not fully explain the steady increase in melanoma they explored factors that may also have contributed to the increase in the United States. These included the trans-formative effect of socioeconomic trends dating from the 1900′s such as clothing styles, social norms, medical paradigms, perceptions of tanned skin, economic trends, and travel patterns. For compoarison between periods they estimated percentage of exposed areas of the body. for example, early in the 20th century clothing almost totally covered the body from head to toe and porcelain skin was favored over tanned skin that was associated with the lower class who often worked outside. Changes in medical practice also added to shifts in attitudes and practices. For example, “In the early 20th century, sunshine became widely accepted as treatment for rickets and tuberculosis and was considered to be good for overall good health.” The public translated this into a desire for tanning and at the same time people began enjoying more leisure time outside and favored swimwear and sports that covered less of the body. Graphs tracking the incidence by year and percentage of estimated skin exposure show a parallel between these changes in lifestyle and belief and the rise in melanoma.
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