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Increased Tanning Bed Use Increases Risk for Deadly Skin Cancers

October 24, 2011
  • Indoor tanning use increased risk for three common skin cancers.
  • Risk increased 11 percent to 15 percent with use every four times per year.
  • Risk effect was more predominant during high school/college.

BOSTON — Researchers confirmed an association between tanning bed use and an increased risk for three common skin cancers — basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, according to results presented at the 10th AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, held Oct. 22-25, 2011.

The popularity of indoor tanning is widespread, with roughly 10 percent of Americans using a tanning facility each year. However, use of tanning beds has been shown to be associated with an increased risk for skin cancer, according to lead researcher Mingfeng Zhang, M.D., research fellow in the department of dermatology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston.

For this cohort study, Zhang and colleagues followed 73,494 nurses who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II from 1989 to 2009. They tracked tanning bed use during high school and college and when women were aged between 25 and 35 years old. They also tracked the overall average usage during both periods in relation to basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.

Results showed that tanning bed use increased skin cancer risk with a dose-response effect. More tanning bed exposure led to higher risks. Compared with nonusers, the risk for basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma increased by 15 percent for every four visits made to a tanning booth per year; the risk for melanoma increased by 11 percent.

“The use during high school/college had a stronger effect on the increased risk for basal cell carcinoma compared with use during ages 25 to 35,” Zhang said.

“These results have a public health impact on skin cancer prevention for all three types of skin cancer,” she said. “[They] can be used to warn the public against future use of tanning beds and to promote restrictions on the indoor tanning industry by policymakers.”

In follow-up studies, the researchers plan to monitor skin cancer incidence and to assess the association with tanning bed usage in this cohort during a longer term.

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The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, the AACR is the world’s oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes 33,000 laboratory, translational and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 90 other countries. The AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants, research fellowships and career development awards to young investigators, and it also funds cutting-edge research projects conducted by senior researchers. The AACR has numerous fruitful collaborations with organizations and foundations in the U.S. and abroad, and functions as the Scientific Partner of Stand Up To Cancer, a charitable initiative that supports groundbreaking research aimed at getting new cancer treatments to patients in an accelerated time frame. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts more than 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, treatment and patient care, and Educational Workshops are held for the training of young cancer investigators. The AACR publishes seven major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Discovery; Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Prevention Research. In 2010, AACR journals received 20 percent of the total number of citations given to oncology journals. The AACR also publishes Cancer Today, a magazine for cancer patients, survivors and their caregivers, which provides practical knowledge and new hope for cancer survivors. A major goal of the AACR is to educate the general public and policymakers about the value of cancer research in improving public health, the vital importance of increases in sustained funding for cancer research and biomedical science, and the need for national policies that foster innovation and the acceleration of progress against the 200 diseases we call cancer.

Media Contact:
Jeremy Moore
(267) 646-0557
Jeremy.Moore@aacr.org
In Boston, Oct. 22-25, 2011:
(617) 954-2674

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