Dose-Response Link Between Tanning Bed Use, Skin Cancer

(HealthDay News) – Use of tanning beds, especially in high school and college, is associated with an increased risk of skin cancer, according to a study published online Feb. 27 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mingfeng Zhang, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study of 73,494 female nurses, from 1989–2009, to investigate whether the frequency of tanning bed use during high school/college and at ages 25–35 correlated with the risk of skin cancer. Models were adjusted for host risk factors, sun exposure behaviors at a young age, and ultraviolet index of residence.

During follow-up, the researchers found that 5,506 nurses were diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), 403 with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and 349 with melanoma. For an incremental increase in use of tanning beds of four times per year during both periods, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of skin cancer was 1.15 for BCC (P<0.001), 1.15 for SCC (P=0.03), and 1.11 for melanoma (P=0.13). There was a significantly higher risk of BCC associated with the use of tanning beds more than six times per year compared with no use during high school/college compared with use at ages 25–35 (HR, 1.73 versus 1.28; P for heterogeneity<0.001)

“These findings provide evidence to support warning the public against future use of tanning beds and enacting state and federal legislation to ban tanning bed use for those under age 18,” the authors write.

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