DARK HEALTH NEWS: 20-year survey links tanning booth use to skin cancer

Oct 26 2011 - 10:50pm

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Brittney Chutka tans at Tanning Oasis in Layton in September 2006. A new 20-year survey shows that increased use of tanning beds increases the risk of deadly skin cancers. Utah has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the nation. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)
Brittney Chutka tans at Tanning Oasis in Layton in September 2006. A new 20-year survey shows that increased use of tanning beds increases the risk of deadly skin cancers. Utah has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the nation. (MATTHEW ARDEN HATFIELD/Standard-Examiner)

LOS ANGELES -- The more you use a tanning bed, the higher your risk of deadly skin cancers, according to research presented at an international cancer conference this week.

Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard University in Boston followed 73,494 nurses who participated in a health study from 1989 to 2009, tracking their tanning-bed habits during high school and college, as well as between the ages of 25 and 35.

They also tracked overall average usage during those two periods in relation to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma -- three skin cancers that are each named after the type of cells they affect.

Of the three, melanoma is the least common but the most deadly.

For every four visits per year to a tanning booth, risk for basal and squamous cell carcinoma jumped 15 percent and risk for melanoma rose 11 percent.

What's more, the researchers found that using tanning booths in the younger age range, during high school and college, had a stronger effect on cancer risk.

The research was presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

Tanning beds have long been under fire for cancer risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement this year that supported banning tanning beds for children younger than 18.

And this month, the beds were banned for use by minors in California.

Surveys show teenage girls and young women know the risks but use tanning beds anyway.

Utah is among the Top 10 states in the nation when it comes to high skin cancer rates.

Every year, nearly 24 of every 100,000 people in Weber County are diagnosed with skin cancer, the Weber-Morgan Health Department stated last year. Davis County's rate was approximately 31 per 100,000 people in 2010, when the national rate was 20.1.

According to the Utah Department of Health, the incidence of melanoma has been increasing for the past 30 years.

In addition, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer (behind Hodgkin's lymphoma) for adolescents and young adults age 15 to 29.

The Standard-Examiner contributed to this article.

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