Cancer Risks for Tanning Teens

Skin cancer risk increased for those using tanning beds especially while younger

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) The risk of skin cancer for those who are exposed to the sun without adequate protection is well established. But what about exposure to tanning beds?

A recent study found that tanning lamps, beds and booths can also increase a person's risk of developing basal cell carcinoma.

Basal cell carcinoma is a slow-growing type of skin cancer thought to be primarily caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays.

The researchers found that the younger a person was when they first used an artificial tanning device, the greater their risk was of developing the skin cancer.

"Discourage teens from using tanning beds."

The study, led by Margaret Karagas, PhD, of the Children’s Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire, aimed to learn whether indoor tanning was linked to basal cell carcinoma.

The researchers compared the indoor tanning histories of 657 individuals with basal cell carcinoma and 452 individuals without the skin cancer.

All of the participants were between 25 and 50 years old, and those without skin cancer were matched in terms of age and sex to those with skin cancer.

The researchers gave the participants questionnaires that asked about their social and demographic characteristics and about various skin cancer risk factors, such as their amount of sun exposure and how quickly or easily they got sun burns.

The participants were also asked whether they had ever used tanning lamps that produce UV radiation before being diagnosed with skin cancer.

An analysis of the responses revealed that those who had used tanning lamps, beds and booths had 1.6 times greater odds of developing early-onset basal cell carcinoma.

Those with the highest risk for the skin cancer were those who had first been exposed to tanning lamps as a teen or young adult.

In fact, for each year earlier that a person was exposed to tanning lamps, the risk for the skin cancer increased 10 percent, compared to those with no artificial tanning exposure.

"Our findings suggest early exposure to indoor tanning increases the risk of early development of basal cell carcinoma," the researchers wrote.

"They also underscore the importance of counseling adolescents and young adults about the risks of indoor tanning and for discouraging parents from consenting minors to this practice," the authors wrote.

The study was published June 23 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded by the National Institute of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the US Environmental Protection Agency. The authors reported no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
June 23, 2014
Last Updated:
June 23, 2014