The Dangers of Indoor Tanning

Posted in Community Outreach

Lacey Daniell, The Grassroots Manager from The New Mexico American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network has shared her presentation with us about the dangers of Indoor Tanning which you can view below. The Acton Network is made up of grassroots volunteers who follow issues that affect cancer, cancer patients, and cancer survivors, such as cancer research, screenings and access to health care for all citizens. You can more information about the American Cancer Society and becoming an advocate by visiting their website: http://acscan.org/volunteer

Adolescents and Indoor Tanning Fact Sheet 

The incidence of melanoma in the United States is increasing rapidly in children and young adults.1, 2 Melanoma is now the second most common form of cancer for individuals aged 15-29 years and the most common form of cancer for young adults aged 25-29 years.3 

The Facts

  • Exposure to UV radiation through sunlight or tanning beds, is the primary risk factor for skin cancer.4 Usually appearing in adulthood, skin cancer is often caused by UV exposure and sunburns that began as early as childhood.5
  • Adolescents, or individuals under the age of 18, are particularly at risk to the damages associated with UV radiation and overexposure as their skin is not fully developed6 and their skin cells are dividing and changing more rapidly than those of adults.7 
  • Indoor tanning use before the age of 35 years increases melanoma risk by 75%.8
  • The risk of developing melanoma increases with the number of sunburns an individual receives throughout all periods of life.9
  • Using a tanning bed increases the risk for squamous cell carcinoma by 67% and basal cell carcinoma by 29%. The risk is higher when the tanning bed use begins before age 25. 10
  • Multiple studies demonstrate that indoor tanners receive sunburns or suffer other skin damage after indoor tanning sessions.11,12,13

In 2009, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) increased the classification of UV-emitting indoor tanning devices to the highest level of cancer risk – Group 1 – “carcinogenic to humans.”14   This classification places tanning devices in the same category as other known carcinogens such as tobacco, benzene, asbestos, and many other substances.  However, despite the risk, adolescents continue to tan indoors.

Tanning Bed Use Among Adolescents 

  • Of the 30 million individuals who tan indoors every year, 2.3 million are adolescents.15
  • Results from the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) demonstrate that 13.3% of high school students had used an indoor tanning device, such as a sunlamp, sunbed or tanning booth one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.16
  • The 2011 YRBS also revealed that indoor tanning incidence was significantly higher in female adolescents (20.9%) than in their male counterparts (6.2%).17
  • In a 2011 nationwide survey by the American Academy of Dermatology, a vast majority (86%) of adolescent and young adult respondents who tan indoors reported knowing that tanning bed usage is associated with skin cancer ― yet still report having used an indoor tanning bed in the last year. 18

Certain factors, many of which can be addressed with educational and policy-level interventions, are associated with a significantly higher prevalence of indoor tanning among adolescents. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), focused on adolescents aged 14-17 living in the 100 largest US cities revealed several factors were significantly associated with increased indoor tanning behavior among adolescents.  Adolescents were much more likely to tan indoors if they19:

  • Believed people with a tan look more attractive (80% more likely)
  • Felt that that their parents allowed them to use indoor tanning (80% more likely)
  • Had a parent who used indoor tanning (70% more likely)
  • Noticed advertisements for indoor tanning (70% more likely)
  • Had a parent who believed people with a tan are more attractive (50% more likely)
  • Lived within two miles of at least one indoor tanning facility (40% more likely)

 

Addressing the Problem

According to the 2011 AJPH study, adolescents were less likely to tan indoors if their state had a law addressing minors’ access to tanning facilities.21

Two states, California (SB 746 -2011) and Vermont (H 157 – 2011), have passed legislation banning tanning bed usage for minors under the age of 18.  Several other states have introduced, or are in the process of introducing, similar measures, and almost 33 states currently regulate the use of tanning facilities by adolescents.

Several national and international organizations have issued reports on the adverse health effects associated with indoor tanning devices, with most recommending the introduction of indoor tanning bans for minors under the age of 18. These organizations include the American Cancer Society, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Commission of Non-ionizing Radiation Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Toxicology Program (US), the National Radiological Protection Board (UK), the National Health and Medical Research Council (Australia), and EUROSKIN.


 

1 Lange, J, et al. (2007).  “Melanoma in Children and Teenagers: An Analysis of Patients from the National Cancer Database.”  Journal of Clinical Oncology, April 2007; 25:11. 2 Weir, et al. (2011)  “Melanoma in adolescents and young adults (ages 15-39 years): United States, 1999-2006.”  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. November 2011; 65:S38-S49. 3 Cancer Epidemiology in Older Adolescents & Young Adults. SEER AYA Monograph Pages 53-57. 2007. 4 Hoerster, et al. (2007). “The Influence of Parents and Peers on Adolescent Indoor Tanning Behavior:  Findings from a Multi-City Sample.”  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology; December 2007, 57:6. 5 National Institutes of Health – US National Library of Medicine. (2011). “Sunburn:  Medline-Plus Medical Encyclopedia.” Accessed on June 12, 2012 at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003227.htm. 6 Yoo, Jeong-Ju and Kim, Hye-Young.  (2012). “Adolescent’s body-tanning behaviours:  Influences of gender, body mass index, sociocultural attitudes towards appearance and body satisfaction.”  International Journal of Consumer Studies; 2012; 26:360-366. 7 Skin Cancer Foundation. (2012).  “Quick Facts About Teen Tanning.”  Accessed on June 8, 2012 at http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning/quick-facts-about-teen-tanning. 8 Mayer, et al. (2011). “Adolescent’s Use of Indoor Tanning:  A Large-Scale Evaluation of Psychosocial, Environmental, and Policy-Level Correlates.”  American Journal of Public Health. May 2011; 101:5. 9 Dennis, L., et al. (2008).  “Sunburns and risk of cutaneous melanoma, does age matter:  A comprehensive meta-analysis.”  Annals of Epidemiology, August 2008; 18:8. 10 Wehner, et al. (2012). “ Indoor Tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer: systematic review and meta-analysis.” British Medical Journal. October2012. 11Cokkinides V, et al (2009). “Indoor tanning use among adolescents in the US, 1998 to 2004”. Cancer 2009;115:190-8. 12 Boldeman C, et al. (1996). “Sunbed use in relation to phenotype, erythema, sunscreen use and skin diseases. A questionnaire survey among Swedish adolescents.” Journal of Dermatology 1996;135:712-6. 13 Boldeman C, et al. (2001). “Tanning habits and sunburn in a Swedish population age 13-50 years”. European Journal of Cancer 2001;37:2441-8. 14 Ghissassi, et al. (2009).  “A Review of Human Carcinogens – Part D: Radiation.”  The Lancet – Oncology; August 2009, Vol 10. 15 Levine, JA., Sorace, M., Spencer, J., et al (2005).  “The indoor UV tanning industry:  A review of skin cancer risk, health benefit claims, and regulation.”  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology; 2005, 53: 1038-1044.  6 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012) “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2011”. MMWR 2012;61:4.   7 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012) “Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance – United States, 2011”. MMWR 2012;61:4  8 American Academy of Dermatology. (2011).  “New survey finds tanning salons are not warning teens and young women about the dangers of tanning beds.”  Accessed on June 8, 2012 at http://www.aad.org/stories-and-news/news-releases/new-survey-finds-tanning-salons-are-not-warning-teens-and-young-women-about-the-dangers-of-tanning-beds-  9 Mayer, et al. (2011).  “Adolescent’s Use of Indoor-Tanning:  A Large-Scale Evaluation of Psychosocial, Environmental, and Policy-Level Correlates.”  American Journal of Public Health, May 2011; 101:5. 20 Hoerster, BA, et al. (2007).  “The Influence of Parents and Peers on Adolescent Indoor Tanning Behavior:  Findings from a Multi-City Sample.”  Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, December 2007; 57:6. 21 Mayer, et al. (2011).  “Adolescent’s Use of Indoor-Tanning:  A Large-Scale Evaluation of Psychosocial, Environmental, and Policy-Level Correlates.”  American Journal of Public Health, May 2011; 101:5 22 Robinson, JK., et al. (2008).  “Indoor Tanning Knowledge, Attitudes, and Beliefs Among Young Adults from 1988-2007.”  Archives of Dermatology, 2008; 144:4.