New numbers show tanning bed popularity among the young

Professor Mary Maloney explains risk of skin cancer

By Lisa M. Larson

UMass Medical School Communications

January 31, 2014

Alarming new data on the prevalence of indoor tanning show 59 percent of college students and 35 percent of adults have used tanning beds, and researchers estimate that activity will result in more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer a year.

The meta-analysis, published in the journal JAMA Dermatology by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, examined 88 studies from 16 countries on indoor tanning use among more than 400,000 study participants.

“Exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young persons,” the authors reported. “Given the large number of skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning, these findings highlight a major public health issue. “

Professor Mary Maloney, MD, director of dermatologic surgery and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Dermatology, who was not involved in the study, said melanoma has become the most common form of cancer among people ages 25 to 29 and tanning beds are to blame.

“The science is clear,” Dr. Maloney told the New York Times last spring. “The risk of developing melanoma increases 75 percent for individuals who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning.”

Learn more about the risks associated with tanning beds in this Expert’s Corner video.