In spite of constant warnings surrounding the use of indoor tanning salons and an increased risk of skin cancer, young people continue to bake under the ultraviolet radiation (UV) in order to achieve that perfect skin tone. A study out of the University of California, San Francisco, found that the prevalence of tanning bed use continues to rise, right along with the person’s risk of developing melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer.

Back in May 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a proposal in hopes of raising consumer awareness over the health side effects of tanning bed lamps. The FDA’s proposal looked to move products containing sunlamps from class I low risk devices to class II moderate risk devices. The dangerous levels of UV radiation emitted by tanning beds is said to be 10 to 15 times higher than midday sun rays. Many states are currently considering bans on tanning beds for people under the age of 18.

“Using indoor tanning beds can damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer,” FDA Commissioner, Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg said in a statement. “The FDA’s proposed changes will help address some of the risks associated with sunlamp products and provide consumers with clear and consistent information.”

A research team led by Dr. Mackenzie R. Wehner, from UC San Francisco’s Department of Dermatology, analyzed 88 studies that included 406,696 responses. Participants were grouped by age and researchers calculated the number of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer cases in the United States, Europe, and Australia that were attributed to indoor tanning beds. Skin Cancer, including melanoma and nonmelanoma, is the most common type of cancer among people in the U.S.

Findings from the study revealed that 35 percent of Americans admitted to using a tanning bed, which included 50 percent of college students and 17 percent of teenagers. The number of study participants who had been exposed to UV rays from a tanning bed within a year of taking the survey was also higher than expected at 14 percent for adults, 43 percent for college students, and 18 percent for adolescents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tanning beds emit both UVA and UVB rays, which dramatically increase a person’s skin cancer risk. It is estimated that a person who starts to use tanning beds before the age of 35 increased their risk of developing melanoma by 59 percent. While around 120,000 new melanoma cases are diagnosed each year, approximately 8,790 people die each year as a result of their melanoma diagnosis.

 

Source: Chren M, Nameth D, Wehner M. International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Dermatology. 2014.