Tanning Beds Triple Melanoma Risk
Skin Cancer Risk Even Higher for Frequent Users of High-Pressure Tanning Beds
Tanning Industry Responds
In response to the study, a tanning industry spokesman said the findings are misleading because the researchers did not distinguish between people with major risk factors for melanoma and the general population.
Those risk factors include having very fair skin, having many moles, and having freckles or red hair.
Melanoma patients in the study were five times as likely as non-patients to have very fair skin and nearly 14 times more likely to have many moles.
John Overstreet of the Indoor Tanning Association tells WebMD that the group’s own scientific analysis of the findings suggests that when high-risk groups are removed, indoor tanning may actually lower melanoma risk.
Overstreet also said indoor tanning may protect against cancer by increasing vitamin D, which is produced in the body in response to UV exposure.
Vitamin D researcher Michael Holick, MD, tells WebMD that although indoor tanning may boost vitamin D levels, he does not recommend it.
“I have never advocated tanning,” he says. “What I have said is that people who want to do it using tanning beds to increase their vitamin D in the winter should do it responsibly. That means protecting your face and staying in for 50% of the time recommended for tanning.”
Feds May Soon Restrict Indoor Tanning
Last year, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) weighed in, concluding that indoor tanning does cause melanoma.
In March, an FDA panel met to consider regulatory changes that could restrict access to tanning salons.
Although an outright ban is unlikely, many believe the group will require minors to have their parents' permission if they want to use commercial tanning devices.