News release: MDH partners with teens to highlight rising skin cancer rates among young women

News Release
May 1, 2014

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MDH partners with teens to highlight rising skin cancer rates among young women

Winning videos by MN teens will air during vampire show

Melanoma is the second-most-common cancer among Minnesota girls and young women between the ages of 15 to 29, and indoor tanning increases melanoma risk by at least 59 percent.

Those are two of the facts highlighted in a video by Scott Svare, 18, of Burnsville High School, who is the judge's choice winner of the MDH UVideo Challenge. MDH will announce additional video contest winners after online voting ends May 7.

For years, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has worked to inform teens and young women of the risk of tanning. In January, the department recruited reinforcements, teens themselves, by hosting the UVideo challenge. MDH and its partners invited teens to develop video messages explaining the risks of tanning to their peers. The Judge's Choice winner was selected by a panel of judges. Other winners will be selected through online voting. Svare's video can be viewed at

Svare will receive a $1,000 cash prize from the Minnesota Dermatological Society. His video will also run in the Twin Cities during the May 15 season finale of "The Vampire Diaries." MDH chose the CW Network TV drama since it has received several Teen Choice Awards. "The show also has a tie to the message, since vampires have pale skin and try to stay out of the sun," said Michelle Strangis, MDH cancer policy coordinator.

The judge's chose Svare's video because it conveyed the risks while also capturing the audience's attention, said University of Minnesota Associate Professor DeAnn Lazovich, a contest judge and a leading researcher on indoor tanning and melanoma. "This is an important issue for teens," Lazovich said. "A large percentage of Minnesota high school girls are needlessly putting themselves at risk for melanoma, the most deadly skin cancer."

More than one of every three 11th grade white females tanned indoors in the last year, according to the latest Minnesota Student Survey. Of those who tanned indoors, more than half did it 10 or more times. This is a concern since indoor tanning beds can deliver 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet radiation than natural sunlight.

MDH Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger said the video contest is a creative way to communicate a serious message. "With prom and graduation approaching, now is the time to talk with teens about the dangers of indoor tanning," Ehlinger said. "In addition to causing wrinkles and other visual damage, we're seeing a 5 percent rise each year in the number of young Minnesota women diagnosed with melanoma."

Still Time to Vote
MDH is urging teens and others to go online and vote for their favorite video. Seven other teens still have a chance to win the public voting portion of the contest. The remaining contestants are from Stillwater Area High School, Hawley High School, St. Thomas Academy, Central High School St. Paul, and Park High School in Cottage Grove. As with the judge's choice winner, the online voting winner will receive $1,000 and have his or her video air during The Vampire Diaries. The online voting second-place winner will receive $500. Vote and view the videos More information on youth tanning is at


Media inquiries:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications