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Tanning Booths Increase Risk of Most Common Skin Cancer

Risk Is Even Greater for Women, Study Shows

Indoor Tanning Is a Public Health Issue continued...

This study provides even more evidence that indoor tanning increases the risk for all types of skin cancer, says Babar K. Rao, MD. He is the acting chair of dermatology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J.

While basal cell skin cancer is not feared the way that melanoma is, “it means that your skin has been damaged enough by ultraviolet rays that you can get any type of skin cancer,” he says.

Many tanning salons advertise that exposure to ultraviolet light will increase the body’s production of vitamin D and improve health. “There are other ways to get vitamin D,” Rao tells WebMD. “Eat healthy foods and take supplements. You don’t need indoor tanning.”

Indoor Tanning Advocate: Getting Burned Is the Real Issue

John Overstreet is the executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, an industry trade group. He says the real culprit is getting burned, not indoor tanning.

“You shouldn’t get sunburn. Everybody agrees with that,” Overstreet says. “It is easier to avoid sunburn when you tan indoors because it so much more controlled.”

“Moderation is key. If you avoid burning either indoors or outdoors, there are benefits,” he says, referring to increased vitamin D production. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a host of health problems including brittle bones, heart disease, and diabetes.

Michele Green, MD, is a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The rays that cause skin cancer are the ones that give you the best tan,” she says, and these are the rays used at indoor tanning salons.

Green says the new findings mirror what she is seeing in her practice, namely more people -- especially women -- younger than 40 with skin cancers. “It’s an epidemic and we should ban tanning booths.”

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