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More evidence of harms of sunbed use, particularly for young people

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 02 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e6101
  1. Catherine M Olsen, senior research officer 1,
  2. Adèle C Green, head, cancer and population studies group 1
  1. 1Population Health Department, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, QLD 4029, Australia
  1. catherine.olsen{at}

Indoor tanning increases risk for the three most common skin cancers

Exposure to ultraviolet radiation, either from the sun or from artificial sources, causes skin cancer.1 Tanning beds have emerged as a prevalent but preventable source of such exposure. Over the past two decades, acquiring a tan through exposure to artificial sources of ultraviolet radiation has become popular among fair skinned people, particularly adolescents and young adults.2 3 4 The use of such tanning devices has been associated with a significantly increased risk of melanoma. Two linked research papers provide further evidence of the harmful effects of indoor tanning.5 6

What is already known about the risks of indoor tanning? A meta-analysis conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) working group on artificial ultraviolet light and skin cancer,7 which used data from 19 studies, reported a modest increase in the risk of melanoma for “ever” compared with “never” exposure to indoor tanning equipment. It also found a higher pooled estimate if first exposure occurred before age 35 years. The IARC review also reported a twofold increased risk of developing cutaneous squamous …

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