Researchers at the University of Minnesota now believe that using an indoor tanning bed frequently can triple an individual’s risk of contracting melanoma, a deadly skin cancer. According to information from the college’s School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center, the research specifically links using indoor tanning devices to an elevated risk of melanoma.
The American Cancer Society suggests that less than five percent of skin cancer cases in the United States are melanoma. However, this type of malignancy is responsible for a significant majority of deaths among skin cancer patients. The incidence of melanoma, a particularly virulent cancer, has been increasing for three decades or longer. Recent jumps in the number of cases have been linked to young white females as well as older white males.
Melanoma occurs somewhat more often in men than in women. It’s at least 10 times more prevalent in Caucasians than in African Americans. Estimates for expected deaths in the U.S. were 8,650 for 2009.
WebMD reports that experts estimated nearly 70,000 new cases of melanoma during that year. The site adds that the Minnesota study was the largest of its type to try to determine if indoor tanning is responsible for skin cancer.
The University of Minnesota study followed 2,268 state residents between 2004 and 2007. Subjects were between 25 and 59 years old. A total of 1,167 had been diagnosed with melanoma, while the control group of 1,101 was free of the illness. Among those with skin cancer, 62.9 percent had tanned indoors. The figure for the control group was 51.1 percent.
The leader of the research team was DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and co-leader of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Prevention and Etiology Research Program. Prior to the release of study’s results, the link between indoor tanning and the risk of developing melanoma had been weak.
Researchers concluded that individuals who use indoor tanning beds are between 2.5 and 3 times more likely to contract this type of skin cancer than people who never use tanning devices. Scientists applied the term frequent to subjects who utilized indoor tanning for more than 50 hours, for more than 100 sessions or for more than 10 years. Their findings suggested that the elevated risk applies to both males and females in all age groups.
The study also revealed that individuals who use any type of tanning bed for any time interval are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than individuals who don’t practice indoor tanning. Although risk for this type of skin cancer was around 3 times higher for those who used UVB-enhanced devices, it soared to 4.4 times greater when UVA-emitting devices had been utilized.
The research, which was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, also revealed that the risk of melanoma continued to increase with amount of use of indoor tanning beds.
Tanning Industry Response
According to WebMD, a tanning industry spokesman indicated that the Minnesota findings were misleading due to failure to distinguish between subjects with major melanoma risk factors and those who were part of the general population. The specific risk factors include having very fair skin, a lot of moles, freckles and or naturally red hair.
A representative of the Indoor Tanning Association suggested that his group’s analysis of the findings points to indoor tanning lowering the risk of melanoma when high-risk groups are eliminated.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is considering regulatory changes aimed at restricting access to tanning salons, particularly for minors.
University of Minnesota announcement
American Cancer Society melanoma site