A new University of Minnesota School of Public Health study examining associations between indoor tanning and melanoma among men and women younger than 50 years found almost all women diagnosed with melanoma under the age of 30 reported the use of tanning beds. The women were also six times more likely to develop the disease than study participants who did not use indoor tanning beds.
The study was recently published in JAMA Dermatology.
“My coworkers and I had data on actual indoor tanning use and melanoma occurrence from young men and women collected as part of an earlier study,” said lead author and associate professor Dr. DeAnn Lazovich. “We re-analyzed our data according to sex and age to understand if indoor tanning was a likely factor in the trends.”
In addition to finding the cancer connection to women under 30, the study showed women between 30 and 49 years were two to three times more likely to develop melanoma if they used indoor tanning beds compared to their non-tanning peers.
According to Dr. Lazovich, this was most likely a result of the fewer overall tanning sessions reported in oldest women than the younger group.
The relationship between melanoma and tanning among men, however, was unclear because men were less likely to report indoor tanning use compared to women.
“An Australian study found similar results for young people who tanned indoors, but our study is the first to examine whether risks for melanoma differ by both age and sex,” said Dr. Lazovich. “The youngest women, known to be the highest users of indoor tanning, are at a high risk of melanoma, which reinforces public health efforts to ban indoor tanning during adolescence and discourage use among young adult women.”
Despite its identification as a human carcinogen in 2009, indoor tanning continues as a popular activity among young women. The study’s authors said the melanoma epidemic can be expected to continue unless indoor tanning is restricted and reduced.