Indoor tanning causes melanoma risk to rise sixfold, a recent study has established, proving once again how harmful excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation can be.
The analysis, presented on Wednesday, January 27 in the journal JAMA Dermatology, was led by DeAnn Lazovich, associate professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health.
Among the study participants were a total of 681 individuals aged between 25 and 49, who had developed melanoma, considered to be the deadliest form of skin cancer, sometime between 2004 and 2007.
Their medical records were compared against those of 654 other people in the same age group who didn’t have such cancerous tumors.
It was determined that female subjects who had indulged in indoor tanning were up to 6 times more at risk of being diagnosed with melanoma than their counterparts who hadn’t opted for this type of cosmetic procedure.
It was also discovered that, on average, female respondents who were under the age of 40 had begun using tanning beds ever since they were 16, in contrast with women between 40 and 49, who had first tried indoor tanning when they were around 25 yeas old.
In addition, younger females were also much more likely to choose tanning booths or sun lamps more frequently than their older counterparts.
Namely, participants in the first age group estimated that they had so far benefited from 100 indoor tanning sessions, while individuals from the second age group recounted that they probably had around 40 such appointments.
Researchers discovered that among women who had had their first cosmetic tan at an early age (during adolescence or early adulthood), and had continued to use tanning beds on a frequent basis, there was a much higher propensity of developing melanoma.
For instance, out of the 63 female respondents who had developed melanoma before they turned 30, just a couple of them had never used a tanning booth, while the rest tended to have skin tumors exactly in the body regions that are the most exposed and vulnerable while tanning indoors (the back and the chest).
Study authors analyzed a potential link between indoor tanning and skin cancer among male subjects also, but such a correlation was harder to detect, possibly because men are much less inclined to seek a cosmetic tan.
Overall, 44% of the male respondents had used a tanning bed, in contrast with 78% of the women included in this survey, and this may be the reason why among the individuals suffering from melanoma 68.3% had been female.
Based on these findings, which further emphasize the unequivocal link between indoor tanning and melanoma, study authors now urge women to be more wary before opting for a cosmetic tan, especially during adolescence or early adulthood.
That’s because UVA and UVB radiation usually has a cumulative effect, the negative impact of prolonged and repeated exposure on the skin’s DNA making itself felt after years of decades.
Young Caucasian females, who are the most common customers of tanning booths, should be particularly heedful regarding the risks they are exposing themselves to, warns Tina Alster, professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center.
In addition, as Alster explains, minors should definitely be forbidden from accessing tanning beds, booths and sunlamps, just like the United States Food and Drug Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested back in December 2015.
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