Confirmed: Tanning Beds Increase Cancer Risk

Despite public knowledge of the dangers associated with indoor tanning, about 10 percent of Americans still use tanning beds each year. More and more evidence continues to surface pertaining to the risks associated with tanning beds. The latest was presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held October 22 to 25.

The study confirmed the association between tanning bed use and an increased risk for three common (and sometime deadly) skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

For the study, the researchers followed 73,494 nurses who participated in the Nurses' Heath Study II from 1989 to 2009. They tracked tanning bed use during high school and college years as well as when the women were between 25 and 35 years old. Researchers also tracked the overall average bed use during that time in relation to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Researchers found tanning bed exposure led to higher skin cancer risks. The risks for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma increased by 15 percent for every four visits made to a tanning booth per year, compared with those who did not use tanning beds. Moreover, the risk for melanoma increased by 11 percent.

"These results have a public health impact on skin cancer prevention for all three types of skin cancer. [They] can be used to warn the public against future use of tanning beds and to promote restrictions on the indoor tanning industry by policymakers," says lead researcher Mingfeng Zhang, M.D., research fellow in the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. Follow-up studies are already being planned.

  • Kim Snyder
    Posted on

    In the state of California our Gov. Jerry Brown has sign into law that starts in Jan. 2012 that kids under the age of 18 will not be allowed to use tanning salons. And its about time! Mostly now kids under 18 can with their parents ok. I have a friend who runs a salon that has tanning beds and she told me that the age of her clients are in their thirties and early forties, and they really should know better! But looking tan is a sign of being healthy they say, but at what cost? Skin cancer is on the rise and its something that we can do something as little as use sunscreen every day, and stay out of tanning salons. Its that who cares what happens tomorrow, when I can look tan now today attitude, so sad. Kim Snyder

  • Julie Hodge
    Posted on

    Data has been building for a long time on the dangers of tanning. I see the effects of indoor tanning sessions in my practice all the time. It is such short term perceived benefit (looking tan, feeling better, vitamin D which you can get in other ways) for long term consequences (aging, brown spots, skin cancer including melanoma which can be fatal).

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