The Skin Cancer Foundation's Position on Indoor Tanning Legislation

The Skin Cancer Foundation supports federal and state-level legislation that increases restrictions on tanning bed use. Nearly 30 million people, including two to three million teenagers, use tanning beds annually – an alarming number, given the serious health dangers associated with their use: 

  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a proven human carcinogen.1
  • Just one indoor tanning session increases users’ chances of developing potentially deadly melanoma by 20 percent, and each additional session during the same year boosts the risk almost another two percent.2
  • A full 76 percent of melanoma diagnoses among people ages 18 to 29 who had tanned indoors are attributable to tanning bed use.3
  • People who begin tanning before age 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent.4
  • People who tan indoors just four times per year increase their risk of basal and squamous cell carcinomas by 15 percent.5
  • Just one indoor tanning session per year in high school or college boosts the risk of basal cell carcinoma by 10 percent. That risk is increased to 73 percent if one tans six times per year.5
  • Approximately 25 percent of early-onset basal cell carcinomas could be avoided if an individual never tanned indoors.6

Over the past 40 years, melanoma incidence increased by 800 percent among young women ages 18 to 39.7 Researchers believe that this drastic increase is linked to prevalent tanning bed use, and that incidence will continue to rise in this high-risk population. The Skin Cancer Foundation strongly believes that efforts to restrict tanning bed use will decrease skin cancer incidence and save lives.




  1. National Toxicology Program. Report on Carcinogens, Twelfth Edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program. 2011: 429-430. Accessed February 12, 2012.
  2. Boniol M, Autier P, Boyle P, Gandini S. Cutaneous melanoma attributable to sunbed use: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ 2012; 345:e4757. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e4757
  3. Cust AE, Armstrong BK, Goumas C, et al. Sunbed use during adolescence and early adulthood is associated with increased risk of early-onset melanoma. Int J Cancer 2010.
  4. The International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group. The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: a systematic review. Int J Canc 2006; 120:1116-1122
  5. Zhang M, Qureshi AA, Geller AC, Frazier L, Hunter DJ, Han J. Use of tanning beds and incidence of skin cancer. J Clin Oncol 2012; 30(14):1588-93.
  6. Ferrucci LM, Cartmel B, Molinaro AM, Leffell DJ, Bale AE, Mayne ST. Indoor tanning and risk of early-onset basal cell carcinoma. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. 2011.
  7. Reed KB, Brewer JD, Lohse CM, Bringe KE, Pruit CN, Gibson LE. Increasing Incidence of Melanoma Among Young Adults: An Epidemiological Study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. Mayo Clinic Proceedings 2012; 87(4):328-334.