A new research suggests that indoor tanning may boost risk of melanoma in young women who used tanning beds during their teen years. These women were up to six times more likely to be diagnosed with the deadly form of skin cancer than women who didn’t engage in indoor tanning.
The study involved about 680 melanoma patients and a control group of 654 healthy individuals. The study also found that older women were less likely to start tanning in younger years than women under age 40. The latter group reported 100 tanning sessions on average, while the former group reported only 40.1 sessions.
More than 33 percent of women that learned about the diagnosis before age 30 had tumors on their trunk, while just 24 percent of women who learned they had the disease after age 40 had tumors on their trunk. Just two patients who developed the condition before age 30 said that they tanned outdoors.
In a recent letter, the former Acting Surgeon General linked indoor tanning with rising skin cancer rates among teens and young adults. So, public health agencies are now pushing for a ban on indoor tanning among teens. Critics say that tanning bed makers and indoor tanning venues often mislead consumers through ‘deceptive advertising’ promising a healthy glow.
The FDA currently plans to bar teens from using tanning beds, and study authors agree. Currently, just 13 U.S. states bar those under age 18 from indoor tanning. Other governments require parental consent or bar only younger teens from tanning beds.
Past studies revealed a link between indoor tanning and higher melanoma rates among young white females across the nation. But the latest research is the first to find a link between indoor tanning use at a specific age and risk of melanoma in specific age and gender groups.
Dr. DeAnn Lazovich, lead author of the study, acknowledged that the research is limited by the small sample size. Still, the findings clearly suggest that indoor tanning might be a contributing factor to melanoma rates among U.S. young females compared with U.S. males.
The study also revealed that the earlier the age a woman started to practice indoor tanning the higher her chances of developing skin cancer were. Likewise, the more often a melanoma patient has used tanning beds the more likely for that patient to develop the deadly disease.
Study authors imply that the ‘melanoma epidemic’ can be curbed if states impose limitations to indoor tanning especially among young people.
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