New Study Finds Strong Link Between Use of Tanning Beds and Melanoma

New research released this month may provide the strongest link yet between tanning beds and melanoma skin cancer, indicating that the more times an individual uses a tanning beds, the higher the risk of cancer they face. 

According to an article published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, people who use indoor tanning beds are at a 74% higher chance of developing melanoma, a rare and deadly form of skin cancer, than those who do not. The study comes as the FDA considers recommendations for increased restrictions on indoor tanning beds, which were re-classified as known carcinogens last year by the World Health Organization (WHO)

Researchers conducted a survey of more than 2,700 people in Minnesota and found that those who tanned indoors had a 74% higher chance of developing melanoma. They also found that the more someone used a tanning bed, the higher their risk of melanoma cancer.

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The findings were consistent across different types of indoor tanning devices, researchers said, indicating that no tanning bed or indoor tanning device was safer than any other. They also found that burns from indoor tanning devices were common and increased the risk of melanoma.

Researchers said that the findings confirm studies conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which led to WHO’s reclassification of indoor tanning last year. WHO’s report determined that the use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75%, but researchers who conducted this most recent study say that age does not appear to be as much of a factor as overall exposure.

“Our study provides strong evidence that indoor tanning is a risk factor for melanoma,” researchers concluded. “Our results also indicate that the number of times an individual is exposed to indoor tanning is more important than exposure to indoor tanning at an early age.”

In March, an FDA advisory panel recommended that the government either ban the use of tanning beds for everyone under the age of 18, or require parental consent. The recommendations were aimed at protecting children from the heightened risk of skin cancer from tanning beds.

Some previous studies have shown that the use of tanning beds by young adults results in eight times the risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer once found mainly in the elderly, but which has increasingly become a problem for younger adults.

The American Cancer Society says that melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. Less dangerous, but more common, basal and squamous cell carcinomas affect more than one million Americans each year and cause about 2,000 deaths annually.


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