Cases of malignant melanoma, an often fatal form of skin cancer, are on the rise. Rates of this disease have tripled over the last twenty years, and the trend shows no sign of letting up. Why the increase? The popularity of indoor tanning beds parallels the rise in cases of malignant melanoma. Teens and young adults are the group most likely to use tan indoors and many of them aren’t aware of the dangers of indoor tanning.
The Dangers of Indoor Tanning: What a Study Showed
A recent study published in Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention showed that the risk of melanoma quadrupled in adults who took part in indoor tanning. To reach this conclusion, researchers studied risk factors for malignant melanoma in a group of 1,167 people between the ages of 25 and 59, who had been diagnosed with malignant melanoma ‘” as well as 1,101 healthy people without the disease.
After looking in depth at their risk factors for melanoma, they found that study participants diagnosed with melanoma were more likely to have used indoor tanning beds. In fact, using indoor tanning beds increased the risk of malignant melanoma by up to four times. The more often these adults had used a tanning bed, the more likely they were to have received a melanoma diagnosis. The melanoma group was also twice as likely to have experienced a painful sunburn at some point in their life.
Will Regulating Indoor Tanning Reduce the Risk of Melanoma?
As a result of this study, doctors are hoping that the FDA will take a more active role in regulating the indoor tanning industry. The FDA has recommended tighter restrictions on the use of tanning beds, especially by teens, but has failed to issue any definitive guidelines. Some states have already placed age restrictions on the use of indoor tanning beds to restrict teen access to them.
According to an article published in the Wall Street Journal, one in five teenagers between the ages of fourteen and seventeen reported using an indoor tanning bed in the last year. The American Academy of Pediatrics is encouraging the FDA to ban the use of indoor tanning beds by teens because of the risk of malignant melanoma and other forms of skin cancer.
The Dangers of Indoor Tanning: The Bottom Line?
Teens and adults need to be educated about the dangers of indoor tanning. Many teens are still unaware of the risks, and even when they are, the prospect of sporting a dark tan is more compelling. Unfortunately, they could pay for it with their life.
Family Practice News. June 15,2010. page 19.