Tanning beds offer the convenience of year-round tanning over your lunch hour, but do pose several health risks. Researchers and dermatologists in the United States report that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, regardless of the person’s age, gender, and even the type of tanning device that is used. This means that a person’s risk of getting skin cancer is the same when they use high-powered tanning beds, stand-up booths and other tanning systems.
The study was published in the May issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, one of the journals of the American Association for Cancer Research. Associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and co-leader of the Prevention and Etiology Research Program at the University’s Masonic Cancer Center, and principal investigator of the study, Dr. DeAnn Lazovich, states that “there was no safe tanning device” in the study. She found that the risk of getting melanoma was linked with how much time a person spent getting a tan, regardless of the device. Before this study, indoor tanning had been “weakly linked” with the risk of getting melanoma.
Dr. Lazovich and colleagues searched through statewide cancer registries to determine the number of melanoma patients aged from 25 to 59 diagnosed in Minnesota only, between 2004 and 2007. The researchers invited the patients to complete a questionnaire and telephone interview to determine what types of devices they used, how frequently they were exposed to the tanning device, and if they experienced any tanning-related burns.
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and accounts for approximately 4 percent of skin cancer cases. It is one of the fastest increasing cancers in the United States, and approximately 69,000 American s are diagnosed with melanoma each year.