Triple Risk of Dangerous Skin Cancer Linked to Frequent Tanning Bed Use

We have been following reports surrounding the many dangers linked to the use of tanning beds. Now, CNN reports that those who regularly tan on these devices are running 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 United States 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 US. CNN, citing National Cancer Institute estimates, pointed out that nearly 70,000 people received a melanoma diagnosis in 2009 in the U.S.; over 8,000 died. Melanoma, said CNN, is so fatal because of its ability to “invade deep into tissues and spread to other parts of the body,” not always the case in other skin cancers.

An emerging study revealed those who have received indoor tans, on average, experience a whopping 75 percent increased risk of developing melanoma versus those who have never tanned in this way, said CNN. This risk increases significantly among people who considered frequent and long-term indoor tanners, said CNN.

According to the study—the largest of its kind, to date—when compared to people who have never used an indoor tanning bed, those who spent more than 50 hours on these devices experienced a three-fold increase for developing melanoma, reported CNN. People visiting tanning salons for a decade or longer or who received over 100 tanning sessions saw a 2.5 times increase for developing the deadly cancer, added CNN.

The new study is being released as a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel is considering stricter mandates on the tanning devices that also include restrictions, even bans, for their use in children under the age of 18, said CNN. Of note, last March, the panel talked about increasing skin cancer warnings at tanning salons and changing tanning bed classifications to that of medical devices in a group that includes CT scanners, reported CNN.

Tanning beds and lamps are listed as 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.

The new study, which appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, included some 1,200 melanoma patients in Minnesota as well as a cancer-free control group, said CNN. Sixty-three percent of those in the melanoma group tanned indoors at least once, versus 51 percent in the melanoma-free group, according to CNN. Also, those who received tans in “high-speed and high-pressure machines” saw between three and 4.5 times the risk of being diagnosed with melanoma, respectively, said CNN. High-speed machines use increased ultraviolet-B (UVB) and high-pressure machines use increased ultraviolet-A (UVA).

We recently wrote that according to the American Journal of Dermatology, more than 30 million people tan indoors every year; nearly three quarters of them are women between the ages of 16 and 29. We also reported that announced that some tanning habits are considered an addiction, according to a recent study.

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