Indoor tanning increases early risk of skin cancer

Indoor tanning continues its popularity since the 1970s, especially among teens and young adults. As a result, the incidence rate of early-onset basal cell carcinoma continues to rise, especially in women. In an article in the July 2014 issue of Pediatrics (published online June 23), “Early Onset of Basal Cell Carcinoma and Indoor Tanning: A Population-Based Study,” researchers studied data from 657 patients with newly diagnosed cases. diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and 452 control subjects 50 years of age or younger who participated in the New Hampshire skin cancer study. Information was collected on the type of indoor tanning with the device used (sunlamps, tanning beds or booths) and the proportion of time spent outdoors during childhood. Participants with early manifestation of BCC were more likely to suffer from sunburn rather than a tan during the first hour of sun exposure in the summer compared to individuals in the control group. A higher proportion of patients with early manifestation of BCC reported having tanned indoors with a tanning lamp compared to the control group, and the association was present with all types of appliances used for indoor tanning. In approximately 40% of cases, BCC was detected in other parts than the head, neck, such as the trunk, and the association with indoor tanning was stronger with tumors occurring in these parts of the body. Previously considered a “safe” way to tan, indoor tanning products can produce 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the midday sun, and early exposure to indoor tanning was associated with an increased likelihood of getting BCC at a young age according to this study. The study authors agree with medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, that they recommend banning or limiting access to commercial tanning facilities for minors.

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