(RxWiki News) There has been an increasing amount of evidence on the harms of indoor tanning. Yet, it seems many people have still been partaking in the activity.
A recent review of studies found that indoor tanning was very common in Western countries, especially among university students.
The researchers concluded that the prevalence of indoor tanning is a major public health issue because it is linked to large increases in skin cancer cases.
"Discuss the risks of indoor tanning with your doctor."
The lead author of this review was Eleni Linos, MD, DrPH, from the Department of Dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco in San Francisco, California.
The review included 76 previously published studies on the prevalence of indoor tanning among adults, university students and teens. All of these studies were published between 1992 and 2013, with data recorded from 1986 to 2012. The studies included a total of 406,696 participants from the United States, Europe and Australia.
The findings showed that 35 percent of the adults had been exposed to indoor tanning during their lifetime, and 14 percent of the adults had been exposed in the past year.
The highest rates of indoor tanning — both over the course of a lifetime and in the past year — were among university students.
Of the university students, 55 percent had been exposed to indoor tanning during their lifetime, and 43 percent had been exposed within the past year.
Only 19 percent of the teens had been exposed to indoor tanning during their lifetime, and 18 percent were exposed within the past year.
The researchers found that more women than men had been exposed to indoor tanning overall and within the past year.
The participants from Northern and Western Europe reported the most exposure to indoor tanning, with 42 percent reporting lifetime exposure.
The lifetime rate in the United States was 35 percent.
Of the Australian participants, 11 percent reported any exposure to indoor tanning during their lifetime.
The researchers estimated that lifetime exposure in the United States contributed to 419,254 new cases of skin cancer per year.
Lifetime exposure in Northern and Western Europe was estimated to have contributed to 23,408 new cases of skin cancer each year.
Australia's lifetime exposure contributed to an estimated 18,441 new cases of skin cancer per year.
These findings suggested that the overall lifetime exposure to indoor tanning in all regions contributed to 464,170 new cases of skin cancer.
“Our findings suggest that exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young persons,” Dr. Linos and team concluded. “Indoor tanning is a major public health problem. […] It is time to open the debate about and pursue additional research into appropriate and effective policy and prevention strategies with the potential to significantly reduce skin cancer risks.”
The researchers firmly believe that future research is needed to determine prevention strategies in order to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
These researchers noted many limitations of their study. First, most of the data came from Western countries, so the findings are not representative of the whole world. Second, most of the study participants were white. Third, all of the data on university students came from the United States. Fourth, some of the studies used had very small study populations. Lastly, studies included data from a large time span, so the findings may not be representative of present exposure.
This review was published on January 29 in JAMA Dermatology.
The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Dermatology Foundation, the National Center for Research Resources of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases provided funding.