Since indoor tanning has become increasingly popular among adolescents and young adults, this research calls attention to the importance of counseling young people about the risk of indoor tanning.
The researchers collected data on 657 participants in the New Hampshire Skin Cancer Study (all under 50) who had newly diagnosed cases of basal cell carcinomas (BCC) and 452 controls. The data they collected included the type of indoor tanning device used (sunlamps, tanning beds, or booths), and skin sensitivity to the sun and proportion of time spent outdoors in childhood.
A higher proportion of patients with early-onset BCC reported indoor tanning with a tanning lamp compared to controls, and this association was present for all types of indoor tanning devices. The researchers also found that participants with early-onset BCC were more likely to burn rather than tan during the first hour of sun exposure in summer as compared to controls. In about 40 percent of cases BCCs were located on the torso (and sites other than the head and neck) and the association with indoor tanning was stronger for tumors occurring in these places.
The study notes that indoor tanning products can produce 10 to 15 times as much UV radiation as the midday sun, and supports the recommendation of medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, to minimize ultraviolet exposure, including from indoor tanning.