In this issue of The Melanoma Letter, we address the developments underlying a recent flurry of media attention and public policy action related to artificial ultraviolet (UV) tanning devices. A major impetus for all this attention was the extensive, authoritative report on the subject prepared by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a working group affiliated with the World Health Organization (WHO). We are very grateful to Dr. Philippe Autier, who headed up the Unit of Prevention Evaluation that issued the report, for providing an outstanding synopsis of the science covered in the 64-page document, which concluded that artificial tanning devices are carcinogenic in humans.
In a companion piece, we share some of the exciting tanning bed policy changes occurring internationally in response to the WHO’s addition of these devices to Group 1, its most dangerous cancer category. The data affirming the risks of tanning beds have continued to mount since the IARC review. The recently published results from an extended follow-up of a cohort study of more than 100,000 women from Sweden and Norway1 reveal that the increased melanoma risk associated with tanning bed use in young people continues to increase with use of the devices in adulthood. Furthermore, a new large case-control study from Minnesota has found that both UVB-enhanced and primarily UVA-emitting devices are strongly associated with increased melanoma risk. This rapidly growing evidence supports the blanket recommendation of a recently released FDA educational video: “Avoid using device-generated UV sources such as tanning beds entirely.”
Allan C. Halpern, MD
Ashfaq A. Marghoob, MD
1. Veierød MB, Adami HO, Lund E, Armstrong BK, Weiderpass E. Sun and solarium exposure and melanoma risk: effects of age, pigmentary characteristics, and nevi. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2010 Jan; 19(1):111-20.