The myth of Arizona skin cancer rates

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PHOENIX -- We run a UV index during many of our 3TV weather segments and, on occasion, people have asked, “Why do you do that? We know it’s sunny in Arizona.”

Well, that’s exactly why we do it. We sometimes take our sunshine for granted and forget how potentially dangerous sun exposure can be. Call it awareness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Each year, nearly 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. The annual death toll is about 8,500.

It’s a huge problem, but now it’s time to dispel a myth that I have heard for more than 25 years (and I guarantee I’ll hear it on some newscast somewhere again).

Myth: Arizona is second only to Australia in skin cancer rates. Or, the only place with a higher skin cancer rate than Arizona is Australia.

It’s just not true. In fact, it’s not even close to true. In the United States, there are about 35 states with higher skin cancer rates than Arizona, according to the CDC. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem here.

According to several sources, while Australia or New Zealand have the highest rates of skin cancer, North America is next followed by several northern European countries.

That’s why you’ll see the UV index during some 3TV forecasts. And that’s why everyone should sunscreen up before heading outside!