To Your Health
January, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 01)
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Feel the Burn: Skin Cancer Linked to Indoor Tanning

By Editorial Staff

With many parts of the country in the throes of another bitter winter, where do many turn to maintain their coveted glowing tans? Tanning salons, of course.

After all, unless reality show "The Jersey Shore" is only filmed during the summer months or New Jersey mysteriously gets a full dose of summer sun while surrounding states get little to none, there's got to be an explanation for why everyone on the show seems to be perpetually tan.

Although prior research evaluating the risk of skin cancer associated with indoor tanning has determined only a weak association, a study published in the October 2010 issue of the research journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that melanoma risk was linked to indoor tanning, and the risk increased with years or hours of use, as well as number of tanning sessions.

Feel the Burn - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Specifically, when cases of melanoma diagnosed in Minnesota between 2004 and 2007 among 25-59-year-olds were evaluated and compared to a control population without diagnosed melanoma, the researchers discovered that 63 percent of cases had tanned indoors versus only 51 percent of controls. According to the researchers, "Melanoma risk was pronounced among users of UVB-enhanced ... and primarily UVA-emitting devices."

There's nothing wrong with a healthy tan, and sun exposure in moderation can actually be beneficial; but the key words are moderation and healthy. Whether from natural sunlight or an indoor tanning device, excessive exposure appears to increase the risk that you'll develop skin cancer. Talk to your doctor to learn more.