Indoor Tanning Linked to Increasing Rate of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

By Helen Holmes on October 04, 2012

“It is a known fact that too much sun exposure can be dangerous. But indoor tanning is 15 times more harmful than sun exposure.”

Previous studies have revealed that indoor tanning is a major factor in malignant melanoma – the least common yet deadliest type of skin cancer. Now, new research is blaming the same for the rising number of people diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer – the most prevalent type of skin cancer in the UK and other countries. But despite the warnings from the government and health experts, more Britons say they will spend more time in tanning beds this year.

Does the benefit outweigh the risk?

In colder countries like the UK and US, tanning beds have become a fad.  For many girls, being tan makes them perfect fit for sexy little clothes. Even young children who are barred from using tanning beds are sneaking out to get the skin tone they want, unknowingly exposing themselves to a life-threatening disease.

It is a known fact that too much sun exposure can be dangerous. But indoor tanning is 15 times more harmful than sun exposure.

In a meta-analysis by the University of California, San Francisco, US, health experts looked at the published medical articles about the harmful effects of indoor tanning. The records were derived from six different countries, involving nearly 80,000 respondents. They found that indoor tanning is responsible for the 170,000 new cases of cancer in the US, and more in other countries.

The researchers found that those who used tanning booths are 67% more likely to develop squamous cancer cells and are 29% more likely to develop basal cancer cells as compared to those who never undergone indoor tanning.

In the UK, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, affecting around 9,000 people each year. Out of this, 1,800 die. The disease is more prevalent among those aged 15-34. Statistics show that the rate of skin cancer in the country has quadrupled since the 70s.

Move to Regulate Sunbed Industry

As part of the Sun Awareness Week, a self-tan company St Tropez organised a group that aims to urge the government to clamp down on the sunbed industry. According to the group, there are 7,000 tanning beds and booths all over UK, and some 150 of these are unmanned. Booths that are unsupervised become very dangerous for children. They cited a 10-year old girl who sneaked in a tanning booth all by herself. She suffered burns on 70% of her body. According to the doctors, she could have needed skin grafts had she stayed there for two more minutes.

Currently, there are no legislations in England, Whales and Northern Ireland about the use of sunbeds. In Scotland however, it will soon be illegal for minors (below 18 years) to use sunbeds, and for tanning salons to leave their booths unsupervised. 

As part of the Cancer Reform Strategy, the Department of Health are conducting reviews and gathering information about the use of tan beds especially among minors, to uses as basis for regulating the industry.

 

Sources of this article:

New study links tanning beds to non-melanoma skin cancer, University of California, San Francisco

Credit crunch causes rise in popularity in tanning booths - but at what cost? 

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