Did you know that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States? We love our sunshine in the U.S. – and in Florida in particular. Tanned skin is seen as attractive and desirable, but certain methods for acquiring that tan can cause very undesirable results.
Tanning the traditional way under the sun’s rays has been known for years to significantly increase the risk of skin cancer, but recent research suggests that tanning indoors in a tanning bed may be just as dangerous.
The Washington Post reports that a group of researchers has compiled the results of 12 individual studies related to skin cancer and tanning beds, and their findings make it quite clear that the artificial light generated by tanning lamps may be just as harmful as the sun when it comes to skin cancer.
Skin Cancer Risk Increased for Young People
Aside from the increased likelihood of cancer from indoor tanning for patients throughout the 12 studies – basal cell carcinoma’s were 29% more likely, while the risk of squamous cell skin cancer rose by 69% – it seems the age at which you start tanning could also raise your risk.
Those who began tanning before reaching the age of 25 have a 40% higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma. Frequency and duration of tanning sessions can raise the risk even further.
More Research is Needed
Researchers are quick to point out that further studies are necessary to eliminate variables such as how much sun exposure these patients received in addition to tanning. A report of this nature – which simply compiles statistics – isn’t the same as a study specifically performed using scientific methodology.
While the numbers may be slightly high, however, an increase this significant can’t be ignored. We already know that the same type of light that tans skin can cause skin cancer, and that exposure to any carcinogen at a young age can increase the risk of cancer later in life.
If you like golden-tanned skin, consider the method and frequency of your tanning carefully. Ultimately the decision of whether you should tan and how much is your own, but that decision should be informed by all of the information available.