Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain – a fair-skinned, 71-year-old white man who spent five-and-a-half years as a young man subjected to severe sunburns as a prisoner of war in tropical Vietnam – is being closely scrutinized by the media for his 15-year history of melanoma skin cancer.
But McCain’s history of melanoma actually supports the indoor tanning community’s position on melanoma: That it is associated with sunburns, not regular non-burning UV exposure, and that melanoma mortality rates are increasing in older men, but not in younger women.
“Senator McCain is a classic example of where melanoma is increasing: It’s not increasing in young women nor in indoor tanners who tan in a non-burning fashion, but in older men with a history of severe intermittent sunburns,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “Proper examination of his melanoma helps to highlight our responsible and balanced position on the right approach to UV exposure.
McCain likely is skin type I – the fairest of skin types who sunburn but do not tan and who are not allowed to tan in professional indoor tanning facilities. Individuals with Skin Type I make up about 5 percent of the North American population.
The New York Times discussed McCain’s melanoma in a feature story March 9.
“From what information Mr. McCain has disclosed, he is at increased risk for melanoma and other skin cancers because of his medical history, fair skin and prolonged sun exposure at a young age – long before the wide use of sunscreen,” The Times reported.
A Smart Tan investigation into melanoma mortality showed that government data in both Canada and the United States show mortality rates increasing drastically in men over the age of 50, but actually decreasing in the past 20 years in younger women.