Study supports link between sunbeds and melanoma skin cancer

In collaboration with Adfero

A new study has provided further evidence of a link between indoor tanning and melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Scientists at the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Centre claim that their study, which is published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, "definitively links" the use of sunbeds to melanoma.

1,167 people aged 25-59 who were diagnosed with invasive melanoma in Minnesota between 2004 and 2007 and 1,101 cancer-free volunteers completed a questionnaire and telephone interview.

On analysing the results, the researchers found that 62.9 per cent of melanoma patients had used sunbeds, compared with 51.1 per cent of people without melanoma.

People who had ever used a sunbed were 74 per cent more likely to develop melanoma.

But frequent users were at much higher risk than this. Those who had spent more than 50 hours or more than 100 sessions on a sunbed, or who had used them for longer than ten years, were between 2.5 and three times more likely to develop melanoma, regardless of their age or sex.

Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UK's SunSmart manager, said: "This large, detailed study supports the decision made last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer to categorise sunbeds as carcinogenic to humans.

"Sunbeds aren't a safe alternative to tanning outdoors. As well as increasing the risk of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, sunbeds also cause premature ageing, making skin look coarse, leathery and wrinkled before its time."

Principal investigator DeAnn Lazovich, associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health, revealed: "We found that it didn't matter the type of tanning device used; there was no safe tanning device.

"We also found - and this is new data - that the risk of getting melanoma is associated more with how much a person tans and not the age at which a person starts using tanning devices. Risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender or device."

References

  • DeAnn Lazovich,et al (2010). Indoor Tanning and Risk of Melanoma: A Case-Control Study in a Highly Exposed Population Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention : 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-1249