University of Minnesota researchers have found that women under age 40 diagnosed with melanoma began indoor tanning at an earlier age and frequented the facilities more often than older women diagnosed with this malignancy. The study, titled “Association Between Indoor Tanning and Melanoma in Younger Men and Women,” was published in JAMA Dermatology.
The incidence of melanoma among younger women has been rapidly increasing in the United States. Because exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning is preventable, reducing it is an important strategy in melanoma prevention.
To assess the relation between indoor tanning and melanoma risk, DeAnn Lazovich, PhD, and colleagues studied 681 individuals who were diagnosed with melanoma between 2004 and 2007, and 654 controls, all between 25 and 49 years of age. The studied variables were:
- age when patients started indoor tanning
- the frequency of indoor tanning for men and women according to age at diagnosis, or reference age for healthy controls
The results revealed that women who tanned indoors were two to six times more likely to develop melanoma. Women under 40 initiated indoor tanning sessions at a younger age than women between 40 to 49 years of age (16 versus 25 years, respectively). Younger women also reported more frequent visits to indoor tanning centers compared to older women (session average 100 versus 40, respectively).
The results further revealed that 33 percent of participants diagnosed with melanoma before age 30 had trunk melanomas lesions, compared to 24 percent of participants ages 40 to 49. Researchers also found that men were less likely to go to indoor tanning rooms when compared with women (44.3 percent versus 78.2 percent, respectively), irrespective of whether they were diagnosed with melanoma or were healthy controls.
Based on these results, indoor tanning appears as a likely factor for the steep increase in melanoma rates among younger women in the U.S. “Our results indicate that these efforts need to be accelerated and expanded beyond bans on minor access to indoor tanning to curb the melanoma epidemic, which seems likely to continue unabated especially among young women, unless exposure to indoor tanning is further restricted and reduced,” the authors concluded in a news release.