Another Study Sees Skin Cancer Risk from Tanning Beds

Evidence linking tanning bed use to the development of skin cancer continues to mount. Most recently, we reported that, according to the American Association for Cancer Research, a study had found a connection between tanning beds and three common skin cancers: Basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Now Reuters is reporting that a new study has confirmed a link between tanning beds and an increased risk for developing basal cell carcinoma, the more common form of skin cancer.

The Yale School of Public Health found that young people who tanned on indoor tanning beds experienced a 69%-increased risk for developing early-onset basal cell carcinoma. “Indoor tanning was strikingly common in our study of young skin cancer patients, especially in the women, which may partially explain why 70% of early-onset BCCs (basal cell carcinomas) are in females,” said Susan T. Mayne, senior study author and a professor at the School of Public Health, wrote Reuters.

The findings appear in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and support prior research from the University of Minnesota, in which it was found that people who used tanning beds—no matter what type of bed or for how long they tanned—were 74% likelier to develop melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, said Reuters.

The team interviewed 750 people who were under 40 years of age and analyzed the type of tanning beds they used, for how long and how often they tanned, any burns they suffered, and the age at which they first started tanning. The research revealed that cancer risks increased with the number of years they used tanning beds, Reuters pointed out. “We were also surprised to find that one-third of our study participants with BCC had already had at least one additional BCC before age 40, which is very alarming as skin cancers increase in frequency in age,” Mayne added, according to Reuters.

The prior study reported by the American Association for Cancer Research tracked over 73,000 nurses who were participants in the Nurses’ Health Study when they were in high school and college; at that time, the women were between the ages of 25 – 35. The study revealed that skin cancer increases from 11 – 15% for every four times the women visited a tanning salon annually. That study also revealed that tanning bed use during high school and college years appeared to have an increased effect on risks for basal cell carcinoma versus when the devices were used by people aged 25 to 35.

Nearly 10% of all Americans visit tanning salons each year, which, said Reuters, translates into about 30 million people using tanning beds, which the World Health Organization (WHO) classifies as a human carcinogen. Tanning beds and lamps are listed as U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Class I devices—those devices least likely to cause harm. Reclassifying them as Class II or III medical devices will subject them to stricter regulation, with a Class II reclassification enabling the FDA to limit the levels of radiation the devices emit and to make other changes to their design.

We’ve long followed reports surrounding the many dangers linked to the use of tanning beds, recently writing that people who regularly tan on these devices run the risk of doubling, even tripling, their risks of developing melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. Melanoma is one of the most common cancers among young adults in the U.S. and is on the rise in all age groups. More than three-quarters of all skin cancer-related deaths are from melanoma and about one person dies of melanoma every hour in the U.S.

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