The States With the Highest (and Lowest) Skin-Cancer Rates Will Surprise You

Photo: Stocksy/Marko Milovanovi
Summer weather means it's time to find any excuse possible to soak up the sun—whether by booking it to a beachy locale, taking a workout outdoors, or dining alfresco. But with the melanoma rate steadily increasing (it doubled between 1982 and 2011), it's important to protect your skin from the strong rays during your extended time outside by loading up on sunblock. And according to one recent report, it's not only important to be diligent with SPF protection in the obvious, sun-soaked coastal states: Skin-cancer rates in America vary from state to state—in a rather surprising way.

Using data collected from its more 41 million customers, insurance provider BlueCross BlueShield identified the states (including Washington, DC) that have the highest and lowest rates of skin cancer, which encompasses basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, melanoma, and others.

Florida tops the list with a 7.1 percent skin-cancer rate. However, increased exposure doesn't seem to be the only factor behind high skin-cancer rates: Sun-drenched Hawaii has the lowest prevalence, at 1.8 percent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Florida tops the list with a 7.1 percent skin-cancer rate—a fair leap from the next highest spot, Washington, DC, at 5.8 percent. However, living in a place that gets lots of sun exposure doesn't seem to be the only factor behind high skin-cancer rates: Sun-drenched Hawaii, which aims to ban environmentally dangerous sunscreens, actually has the lowest prevalence of skin cancer, at 1.8 percent.

So, if the research proves anything, it's that you don't need to change your vacation plans to avoid states with high sun exposure. Just make sure to stay on top of your best summer skin-care practices, and you can enjoy outdoor activities to your heart's content.

The report found that the following states have the highest skin-cancer rates:

1. Florida (7.1 percent)

2. Washington, D.C. (5.8 percent)

3. Connecticut (5.6 percent)

4. Maryland (5.3 percent)

5. Rhode Island, Vermont (both 5.3 percent)

Meanwhile, the below states have the lowest levels of skin cancer:

1. Hawaii (1.8 percent)

2. Oklahoma (2.6 percent)

3. Mississippi (2.7 percent)

4. North Dakota (2.8 percent)

5. Wisconsin (2.9 percent)

In the not so distant future, monitoring sun exposure will be a breeze with temporary tattoos and next-gen devices.

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