Unsurprisingly, Indoor Tanning Might Cause Early Onset Cancer

If you put your body under burning rays for extended periods of time, lots of things can happen.  One of them is that the skin can darken a bit and burn, eventually giving you a tan.  Apparently, another possibility is an increased risk of melanoma brought on by gene mutations caused by the ultraviolet light.

By examining 114 melanoma patients who used indoor tanning facilities and 222 who did not, researchers found that those who tanned indoors developed melanoma about a decade earlier than those who did not.  They reported their findings in the Journal of National Cancer Institute.

Researchers examined data on 114 melanoma patients who had a history of indoor tanning and 222 melanoma patients who did not. After accounting for several factors that can impact melanoma risk – like gender, skin type, hair and eye color, sun exposure, and family history – researchers estimated that melanoma developed about a decade earlier when patients had a history of indoor tanning.

In an email to Reuters, lead study author Dr. Toni Burbidge of the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine said:

Many of our patients expressed the sentiment that they had been using indoor tanning as a way to develop a `base tan’ to avoid burning when exposed to the sun outdoors.  Unfortunately, they may have added to their cumulative UV damage, resulting in an earlier diagnosis of melanoma than the patients who had never used indoor tanning.

High levels of UV light in tanning beds are absorbed by skin cells and lead to DNA damage, Burbidge said. And this damage can lead to mutations – such as the BRAF V600E mutation – which can accumulate over time and can lead to the development of cancer.

Like research showing that inhaling smoke from a burning stick will damage your lungs, the findings that artificially burning your skin with UV light can be damaging and lead to melanoma will surprise exactly no one.  The question is, will it convince some people to stop using indoor tanning?

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