Strong Scientific Basis for Banning Indoor Tanning

Recent Studies Link Indoor Tanning Bed Use to Melanoma

Recent studies provide evidence linking indoor tanning bed use to melanoma and reinforce the declaration by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) that indoor tanning devices are carcinogenic to humans.

"While the medical community has known anecdotally that indoor tanning is linked with melanoma, it has been difficult to provide the evidence. These new studies show conclusively that indoor tanning bed use can lead to melanoma," said Steven Q. Wang, MD, member of The Skin Cancer Foundation's independent Photobiology Committee and Director of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Basking Ridge, NJ.

In June 2010, researchers at the University of Minnesota determined (in a study of more than 2300 people) that melanoma risk was pronounced among users of indoor tanning devices. Frequent indoor tanning use increased melanoma risk regardless of when indoor tanning began.

A 2011 study from Australia concluded that sunbed use is associated with an increased risk of early on-set melanoma. The researchers concluded that the earlier and more frequently tanning beds were used, the greater the increased risk of developing melanoma.2

"Anyone who suggests publicly that tanning beds are safe is putting people's lives in danger," said Warwick Morison, MD, Chairman, The Skin Cancer Foundation's independent Photobiology Committee and Professor of Dermatology at Johns Hopkins University.

A study from the Institute for Behavioral and Community Health in San Diego shows that current laws appear ineffective in reducing indoor tanning and that bans are needed.3 Currently, New York and California are leading the way in legislation to ban indoor tanning. If these two states pass bills banning indoor tanning bed use for minors it could help bills get passed around the country.

About The Skin Cancer Foundation

The Skin Cancer Foundation is the only global organization solely devoted to the prevention, early detection and treatment of skin cancer. The mission of the Foundation is to decrease the incidence of skin cancer through public and professional education and research. For more information, visit


1. Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly exposed population.

Lazovich D, Vogel RI, Berwick M, Weinstock MA, Anderson KE, Warshaw EM.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Jun;19(6):1557-68. Epub 2010 May 26.

2. Sunbed use during adolescence and early adulthood is associated with increased risk of early-onset melanoma.

Cust AE, Armstrong BK, Goumas C, Jenkins MA, Schmid H, Hopper JL, Kefford RF, Giles GG, Aitken JF, Mann GJ.

Int J Cancer. 2011 May 1;128(10):2425-35. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25576.

3. Adolescents' use of indoor tanning: a large-scale evaluation of psychosocial, environmental, and policy-level correlates.

Mayer JA, Woodruff SI, Slymen DJ, Sallis JF, Forster JL, Clapp EJ, Hoerster KD, Pichon LC, Weeks JR, Belch GE, Weinstock MA, Gilmer T.

Am J Public Health. 2011 May;101(5):930-8. Epub 2011 Mar 18.


Héry C, Tryggvadóttir L, Sigurdsson T, Olafsdóttir E, Sigurgeirsson B, Jonasson JG, et al.

Am J Epidemiol. 2010 Oct 1;172(7):762-7. Epub 2010 Sep 2.

Bradford PT, Anderson WF, Purdue MP, Goldstein AM, Tucker MA.

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Sep;19(9):2401-6.