According to a recent study, the potential to get skin cancer from tanning beds is substantially higher among young people than previously thought. Those who start tanning before 35 have a 59% higher probability of melanoma, and the risk of getting skin cancer from indoor tanning is higher than the risk of getting lung cancer from smoking.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) wanted to determine the worldwide prevalence of indoor tanning. They analyzed over 80 studies from 16 countries, including data on over 400,000 participants. The researchers analyzed the popularity of indoor tanning across different age groups, then calculated the probability of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) in the United States, Europe and Australia.
Jama Dermatology published the study, showing that 35% of adults participated in indoor tanning and 14% used a tanning bed within the past 12 months. Other findings about indoor tanning include:
- Nearly 55% of college students used tanning beds, with 43% having done so within the past year.
- Roughly 19% of adolescents participated in indoor tanning, with 18% having done so within the past year.
- Overall, women used tanning beds more than men.
- Could lead to 450,000 cases of NMSC and 10,000 cases of melanoma each year.
Compared To Smoking
Researchers were particularly alarmed at the estimated 450,000 annual skin cancer cases linked to indoor tanning throughout the US, Europe and Australia. That number of skin cancer cases related to indoor tanning is actually higher than the number of lung cancer cases related to smoking.
It’s important to note that the mortality rate for lung cancer is much higher than it is for skin cancer, and the smoking can cause a litany of other health risks besides cancer. With that said, tanning beds are growing in popularity while smoking rates are falling throughout Western countries. Researchers noted the high probability that skin cancer cases related to indoor tanning will exceed the number of smoking-related lung cancer cases in the near future.