The dangers of indoor tanning

January 4, 2017 by Karen Honey, Phd
The dangers of indoor tanning
Squamous cell carcinoma cells. Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States. Credit: National Cancer Institute

Before you try to banish the winter blues by adding some color to your skin with a trip to the tanning salon, remember that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from indoor tanning beds, sunlamps, and tanning booths increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

UV-emitting tanning devices were first classified as capable of causing cancer by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, in 2009. Since then, it has been calculated that these devices cause about 8 percent of the cases of melanoma—the most deadly form of skin cancer—diagnosed each year in the United States. This means that in 2016, more than 6,000 cases of melanoma were attributable to using UV-emitting tanning beds, sunlamps, and tanning booths.

New research, published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, estimates that more than 61,000 cases of melanoma over the lifetime of the 61.2 million youth age 14 years or younger in the United States could be prevented if people younger than age 18 were banned from using UV tanning devices.

The researchers also estimated that such a ban would save $342.9 million in treatment costs.

The most recent data show that in 2015, 7 percent of all reported using a UV-emitting tanning device at least once during the 12 months before being surveyed. Although this was down from 13 percent in 2013, it is clear that more needs to be done to reduce the number even further.

Research has shown that female high-school students living in states with laws restricting the use of UV-emitting tanning devices are less likely to use such devices than those in states without restrictions. However, as of Dec. 1, 2016, only 13 states and the District of Columbia had enacted laws banning the use of UV-emitting tanning devices by people under age 18. Two other states had laws banning a person under age 18 from using UV-emitting tanning devices unless he or she has a prescription from a physician. A number of other states have laws that impose less stringent restrictions on the use of UV-emitting tanning devices, but eight states have no laws restricting the use of such devices.

As discussed in a previous post on this blog, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) joined with more than 20 health and cancer-related organizations in July 2015 to call for broad implementation of state and federal legislation to prohibit the use of indoor tanning by minors under the age of 18.

In late 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a proposed rule that would restrict the use of UV-emitting tanning devices to those age 18 and older. The agency accepted public comments on the proposal for 90 days, during which time the AACR, in conjunction with the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI), submitted comments in strong support of the proposed rule. A final rule is still pending, but the new research only adds to the growing evidence that implementation of a ban on the use of UV-emitting tanning devices by people younger than age 18 could, in combination with other legislation and public education campaigns, significantly reduce the personal and financial burden of melanoma in the United States.

Explore further: Keeping minors from tanning beds would save thousands of lives, study says

More information: Gery P. Guy et al. The potential impact of reducing indoor tanning on melanoma prevention and treatment costs in the United States: An economic analysis, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2016.09.029

Related Stories

Keeping minors from tanning beds would save thousands of lives, study says

December 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—Restricting people younger than 18 from indoor tanning could prevent thousands of skin cancers and deaths in the United States, according to a new study.

Indoor tanning laws help keep teen girls away, study finds

February 14, 2014
(HealthDay)—Teen girls are less likely to go to indoor tanning salons if they live in states that restrict their use of tanning beds, a new study reveals.

FDA proposes ban on indoor tanning for minors

December 18, 2015
Anyone under the age of 18 would be barred from using indoor tanning equipment, under a federal proposal to help reduce skin cancer linked to the devices.

Melanoma expert discusses dangers of indoor tanning

March 4, 2016
As spring break plans are being finalized, many people are heading for the tanning salons to get that beach-ready glow. 

Indoor tanning: Women say no to total ban, yes to stricter policies

August 15, 2016
Most young adult women who regularly visit indoor tanning salons support the introduction of policies to make it safer, but are against a total ban. This is according to a study led by Darren Mays of Georgetown University ...

FDA wants cancer warnings for tanning beds

May 6, 2013
Indoor tanning beds would carry new warnings about the risk of cancer and be subject to additional regulations, under a proposal unveiled by the Food and Drug Administration.

Recommended for you

India has avoided 1 million child deaths since 2005, new study concludes

September 19, 2017
India has avoided about 1 million deaths of children under age five since 2005, driven by significant reductions in mortality from pneumonia, diarrhea, tetanus and measles, according to new research published today.

Gulf spill oil dispersants associated with health symptoms in cleanup workers

September 19, 2017
Workers who were likely exposed to dispersants while cleaning up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill experienced a range of health symptoms including cough and wheeze, and skin and eye irritation, according to scientists ...

Study suggests link between youth football and later-life emotional, behavioral impairment

September 19, 2017
A new study has found an association between participation in youth tackle football before age 12 and impaired mood and behavior later in life. The study appears in Nature's Translational Psychiatry.

Self-confidence affected by teammates, study finds

September 19, 2017
A person's confidence in their own ability varies significantly depending on who is in their team, according to new research from the University of Stirling.

Video game boosts sex health IQ and attitudes in minority teens

September 18, 2017
A videogame designed by Yale researchers to promote health and reduce risky behavior in teens improves sexual health knowledge and attitudes among minority youth, according to a new study. The findings validate the value ...

Two Americas: Seniors are getting healthier but most gains go to high-income whites

September 18, 2017
Older Americans report feeling dramatically healthier than they did 14 years ago but that good health isn't evenly distributed, with much of the gain going to the wealthiest, most highly educated and whites.


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.