Young Tanners at Risk

 The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), has unequivocally linked sunbed tanning among young people to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Young Tanners at RiskAfter exhaustively reviewing decades of worldwide research, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization (WHO), has unequivocally linked sunbed tanning among young people to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to the agency's conclusions, the weight of evidence also points to youthful sunbed use as a cause of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), the second most common skin cancer, as well as other health problems.

The data show a clear increase in melanoma risk associated with sunbed use in one's teens and twenties," said Peter Boyle, MD, Director of the IARC. "And limited data show a similar increase in risk of squamous cell carcinoma for those who first used sunbed tanning as teenagers.

The connection between sunbed tanning and melanoma across all age groups was not statistically significant, though "still not negligible," Dr. Boyle noted. However, the link between youthful sunbed tanning and melanoma was "prominent and consistent"- a 75 percent increase in risk of melanoma among those who first used sunbeds in their twenties or teen years.

Along with the increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma indicated by the data, other potential health problems suggested were a decrease in the skin's immune response (which could reduce resistance to skin cancers and other maladies) and an increase in eye (ocular) melanomas. No positive health effects of sunbed tanning were found, contradicting what tanning salon owners often have insisted as a selling point.

In view of the strength and seriousness of the findings, effective action to restrict access to artificial tanning facilities, such as solariums and tanning salons, to minors and young adults should be strongly considered," concluded Dr. Boyle.