Here’s a warning for the “Jersey Shore” crowd. Indoor tanning beds can cause non-melanoma skin cancer, with the risks greater for tanners who start earlier.
That’s the chief finding of a new analysis of studies by researchers with the University of California-San Francisco.
The analysis, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), determined that indoor tanning — already a known risk factor for deadly malignant melanoma — significantly increases the risk of the more common varieties of non-melanoma skin cancers.
Based on their review — involving an examination of medical articles published since 1985 involving some 80,000 people in six countries — the researchers estimated indoor tanning is responsible for more than 170,000 new cases a year of non-melanoma skin cancers in the United States.
People who start patronizing tanning salons under the age of 25 have a significantly higher risk of developing basal cell carcinomas compared to those who never use them. Indoor tanning patrons had a 67 percent higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, compared to people who never did indoor tanning, the researchers said.
"The numbers are striking — hundreds of thousands of cancers each year are attributed to tanning beds,'' said Dr. Eleni Linos, an assistant professor of dermatology at UCSF and senior author of the study. "This creates a huge opportunity for cancer prevention.''
The popularity of indoor tanning in the United States first began in the 1970s, particularly among younger Americans eager to emulate popular celebrities, such as the bronze-tanned stars of the “Jersey Shore” reality show.
The National Cancer Institute and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 5.6 percent of American used indoor tanning, with about 19,000 indoor tanning salons in business, according to an industry trade organization.
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institute of Health.