Tanning devices have gained widespread popularity in the United States. Past epidemiologic studies suggested that the use of tanning devices might contribute to the incidence of melanoma, one of the major forms of skin cancer. Few studies have looked at the association between tanning devices and the more common types of skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
In the new study, Karagas and her colleagues interviewed 603 people who were newly diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, 293 who were diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, and 540 skin cancer-free people about their past tanning device usage, history of sun exposure, tendency for sunburn, previous radiation treatment, and smoking history. The participants were between the ages of 25 and 74 and were residents of New Hampshire.
The authors found that people who reported any use of tanning devices were 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who did not report using tanning devices. Moreover, the risk of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma increased by 20% and 10%, respectively, for each decade younger participants were when they began using a tanning device. Other factors, including past sunburns, sunbathing, and sun exposure, did not appear to explain the excess risk of either type of skin cancer associated with tanning lamps.
The authors conclude that the use of tanning devices may contribute to the incidence rates
of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, which together are the most common malig
Contact: Linda Wang
Journal of the National Cancer Institute