Use of sunbeds leads to 3000+ cases of melanoma a year in Europe

July 24, 2012

Of 63,942 new cases of cutaneous melanoma (a form of skin cancer) diagnosed each year in Europe an estimated 3,438 (5.4%) are related to sunbed use. Sunbed users are at a 20% increased relative risk of skin cancer compared with those who have never used a sunbed. This risk doubles if they start before the age of 35 and experts warn that "tougher actions" are needed to reduce this risk.

is the most significant environmental cause of skin cancer and sunbeds have become the main non-solar source of in Western Europe (UV is the wavelength associated with the occurrence of skin cancer). A study from 2005 found a 75% increased risk of melanoma if sunbed sessions were started during adolescence or . But no studies since then have estimated the impact of melanomas (skin ) due to sunbeds in .

So researchers from the International Prevention Research Institute in France and the European Institute of Oncology in Italy analysed the results of 27 separate studies on skin cancer and sunbed use between 1981 and 2012. Countries included the UK, France and Germany.

The total number of skin cancer cases included in the analysis was 11,428. The authors summarised risk of skin cancer from any sunbed use at 20% which rose to 87% if exposure was before 35 years of age. There was also a 1.8% increase in risk for each additional sunbed session per year.

The authors estimate that from the 63,942 new cases of melanoma diagnosed every year in 18 Western European countries, 3438 and 794 deaths (498 women and 296 men) would be caused by sunbed use.

The authors believe that earlier studies have tended to underestimate the risks of because the use of these devices is relatively new. Furthermore, from 2005 to 2011, most risks have increased. Future studies could therefore demonstrate an even higher risk.

It could be argued that sunbed exposure could be a marker of a more sun exposed population, but figures from Iceland (where sunny days are uncommon) show that after 1990 the incidence of increased sharply in young females which decreased in 2000 when authorities imposed greater control on sunbed installation.

The authors conclude that and other skin cancers associated with sunbed use can be prevented by avoiding exposure to indoor tanning devices. They argue that the sunbed industry has not shown an ability to "self-regulate effectively" but instead give "information intended to deceive consumers". They argue that prevention must be based on "tougher actions" and that tanning under the age of 18 should be restricted and unsupervised tanning salons should be banned – laws that are already in place in Australia and several Europe countries. In the USA, only the State of California has introduced such a ban.

Explore further: Sunburnt Australia to pull plug on sunbed tans

More information: Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: Systematic review and meta-analysis, British Medical Journal, 2012.

Related Stories

Sunburnt Australia to pull plug on sunbed tans

February 19, 2012
Jay Allen used to love having what he thought was a healthy tan -- so much so that he would regularly expose his body to the lights of a sunbed to ensure he maintained his overall colour.

Top German court upholds sunbed ban for under-18s

January 19, 2012
Germany's highest court ruled Thursday that minors should be banned from visiting tanning studios due to health concerns, upholding a law that caused controversy in one of Europe's top sunbed markets.

Increased tanning bed use increases risk for deadly skin cancers

October 24, 2011
Researchers confirmed an association between tanning bed use and an increased risk for three common skin cancers — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, according to results presented at the 10th ...

Recommended for you

Study uncovers potential 'silver bullet' for preventing and treating colon cancer

July 26, 2017
In preclinical experiments, researchers at VCU Massey Cancer Center have uncovered a new way in which colon cancer develops, as well as a potential "silver bullet" for preventing and treating it. The findings may extend to ...

Compound shows promise in treating melanoma

July 26, 2017
While past attempts to treat melanoma failed to meet expectations, an international team of researchers are hopeful that a compound they tested on both mice and on human cells in a petri dish takes a positive step toward ...

Understanding cell segregation mechanisms that help prevent cancer spread

July 26, 2017
Scientists have uncovered how cells are kept in the right place as the body develops, which may shed light on what causes invasive cancer cells to migrate.

Study may explain failure of retinoic acid trials against breast cancer

July 25, 2017
Estrogen-positive breast cancers are often treated with anti-estrogen therapies. But about half of these cancers contain a subpopulation of cells marked by the protein cytokeratin 5 (CK5), which resists treatment—and breast ...

Breaking the genetic resistance of lung cancer and melanoma

July 25, 2017
Researchers from Monash University and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC, New York) have discovered why some cancers – particularly lung cancer and melanoma – are able to quickly develop deadly resistance ...

Physical activity could combat fatigue, cognitive decline in cancer survivors

July 25, 2017
A new study indicates that cancer patients and survivors have a ready weapon against fatigue and "chemo brain": a brisk walk.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.