A map of the United States with highlighted outlines on states with high skin cancer rates - Idaho, Utah, Hawaii, Minnesota, Vermont, Delaware, and Florida.

Is Skin Cancer More Prevalent in Florida?

Last updated: December 2021

Most of us know how dangerous skin cancer is. And while you might think that the southern states have the highest rate of skin cancer, the findings might surprise you. Is skin cancer more prevalent in Florida and other southern states? What about California? Let’s look at the facts.

The sun isn’t the same in all states

We might think that sunlight is sunlight, but that’s not true. While you still get dangerous UV rays from the sun no matter where you are, when we’re talking about the United States, Florida is unique.

There's a reason people go to Florida

There’s a reason many people flock to the Sunshine State. Due to its location, Florida gets stronger sunlight than other states. That means more fun in the sun - going to the beach, boating, fishing, or whatever you enjoy under sunny skies.

What's the equator have to do with anything?

What you may not know is that the closer a place is to the equator, the higher the ultraviolet rays (UV) levels. And while we all want to enjoy our vacation, you really have to be careful spending time outdoors. According to SunlightLiving, "If you take a look at the map, Florida is very close to the Caribbean islands. The closest island of the Bahamas is only 50 miles away! The Florida Keys, in the south of the state, are even part of the tropical zone." This explains more of why it’s so sunny, hot, and humid!

Is skin cancer more prevalent in Florida?

Surprisingly, there are other states that have a higher incidence of skin cancer than Florida. These states include Utah, Vermont, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Even more surprising is that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these states actually have the highest rates of skin cancer. Yes, even more than Florida. Actually, more than the combination of Florida, Texas, and California.

Not all of the information is so sunny

On the other hand, Florida is number two when it comes to the total number of melanoma cases. The number one state is Hawaii. One fascinating fact is that Florida has a lower altitude, but an increased risk. Hawaii has increased UV penetration due to higher altitudes.

There's snow way I can get skin cancer in the cold, is there?

And it’s important to keep in mind that while Florida has hot summer days, with plenty of sunshine, other areas of the country have high risks due to their cold climates and snowfall. Yes, that's right, your skin can get damaged in the snow.

What’s the takeaway?

So, is skin cancer more prevalent in Florida? Yes, when it comes to melanoma cases, except for Hawaii. But those other states we mentioned before pose a higher risk. What does all this mean? It’s important to be sun-aware no matter where you live! Whether you’re vacationing (or living) in Florida, or you spend your time in Vermont, the sun emits harmful UV rays that can cause skin cancer.

Let's go back to old faithful: sun protection

It’s important to mitigate sun damage by limiting exposure, using sunscreen, and finding shade. Most of us love playing in the sun or snow, but know that there is a risk - whether you’re near the equator, in the Midwest, New England, or on the West Coast.

What does your year-round sun protection routine look like?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.

Community Poll

Do you typically get extra questions about your health during the holidays?