Stop tanning and especially avoid tanning beds. The international Agency for Research on cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, reviewed all available worldwide data and found strong association with tanning bed use and the development of melanoma. Specifically, anyone who has ever used a tanning bed has a 15% increased risk of developing melanoma. Based on seven worldwide studies, people who first used a tanning bed before age 35 increased their risk of developing melanoma by 75%. How about these numbers found on the Skin Cancer Foundation website: More than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the US each year are linked to indoor tanning including about 245,000 basal cell carcinomas, 168,000 squamous cell carcinomas and 6,200 melanomas. On top of that, 76% of melanoma cases among 18-29 year olds who had tanned indoors were attributable to tanning bed use. YES, melanoma occurs in people this young, sometimes younger, and proves deadly for many of them.
Even with this knowledge, millions in the US still use tanning beds and contribute billions of dollars to the tanning industry. Thankfully, indoor tanning rates are declining among men and women generally, but one group, older men, have failed to show such declines.
One study, by Gery P. Guy Jr et al and published in the Journal of the Academy of Dermatology in February 2017 is bound to hit the news soon. The US Food and Drug Administration proposed prohibiting indoor tanning among minors younger than 18. A fabulous idea if you ask me. This study looks at the impact of such a ban. They estimated that such a ban would prevent 61,839 melanoma cases, prevent 6,735 melanoma deaths and save $342.9 million in treatment cost over the lifetime of the 61.2 million youth age 14 years or younger in the United States.
What is my take home message? Tanning is bad and may kill you or someone you know. Indoor tanning is very, very bad and may kill you or someone you know. At all costs keep your children away from tanning beds and protect them from the sun. If you or someone you know are using tanning beds or have used tanning beds in the past, share this knowledge. If you have ever used a tanning bed, even once, be sure to have a full skin exam every year by a dermatologist and self-monitor you moles looking for the ABCDE’s of melanoma: A (asymmetry), B(irregular borders), C(multiple colors), D(large diameter), E(evolving/changing or new moles). If your moles display these features, it would be wise for you to get them checked out.