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Indoor Tanning Beds Increase Risk of Melanoma

Use of indoor tanning beds increases risk of melanoma between twofold and fourfold depending on the device and length of time indoor tanning is used, according to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Philadelphia (Vocus) -- American Association for Cancer Research Hosted Press Conference on Findings

(recording available below)

  • Risk higher than fourfold with some devices
  • FDA currently considering a ban on indoor tanning beds among teens

Use of indoor tanning beds increases risk of melanoma between twofold and fourfold depending on the device and length of time indoor tanning is used, according to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

In the largest study of its kind on this issue, researchers found that among 1,167 melanoma cases and 1,101 healthy controls, those who had tanned indoors had a 74 percent increased risk of melanoma. If the devices emitted primarily UVA radiation, the risk was 4.4-fold.

Risk increased along with greater years of use, number of sessions or total hours of use.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently considering a ban on indoor tanning beds among teenagers. Results from this study suggest the greater risk of melanoma observed among teenagers is more likely due to increased years of tanning rather than biology. Currently, indoor tanning use is much more common among teenage girls and young women than boys or men.

The AACR hosted a press conference on the report on Thursday, May 27 at 11a.m. ET, moderated by Tim Rebbeck, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, and professor of epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

The following scientists participated in this press conference:

Lead author DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota:

“It had been previously thought that those tanning with UVB, rather than UVA, radiation would be at increased risk for melanoma. Our study shows that there is no such thing as a safe device.”

Electra Paskett, Ph.D., associate director for population sciences at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute:

“Too many teenagers tend to live a life ignorant of risk. They believe that because they are not old they will never be old. We need to encourage a shift in social norms about tanning similar to what was done with smoking because the risk is that high.”

Allan Halpern, M.D., chief of the dermatology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center:

“We see over 120,000 melanoma cases in the United States every year and over 8,500 deaths. Tanning bed use is definitely one of the factors fueling this epidemic.”

Listen to a recording of the teleconference.

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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 31,000 basic, 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 fellowship and career development awards. 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. The AACR publishes six major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; and Cancer Prevention Research. The AACR also publishes CR, a magazine for cancer survivors and their families, patient advocates, physicians and scientists. CR provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.


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