Non-melanoma skin cancer linked to tanning beds

By Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - A new study revealed that indoor tanning beds, while popular, are to blame for more than 170,000 new cases of skin cancer in the United States.

Researchers said those who begin tanning before the age of 25 are 67 percent more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29 percent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma compared to those who never use tanning beds.

Pediatric dermatologist. Dr. Sue Ann Douglas with Kelsey-Seybold Clinic said she discourages her patients from both indoor and outdoor tanning.

She explained, "Indoor tanning seems to be as damaging to the skin as outdoor tanning. Sometimes teenagers will go frequently to indoor tan. It becomes a social event and they're doing a lot of damage to their skin and there's a lot of data to suggest that the skin is more sensitive to ultraviolet exposure at a young age when most of the tanning is happening."

Douglas said both basal and squamous cell carcinoma tend to be non-lethal, but are still concerning.

She added, "It is something that usually needs to be surgically removed, so it can cause down time and leave scars."

In a statement, a representative for the Indoor Tanning Association said, "While indoor tanning is generally considered a cosmetic activity, there are also proven and published health benefits of vitamin D production, which many researchers believe outweigh the overall health risks of skin cancer and even melanoma."

Douglas said, "You can get sufficient vitamin D from a healthy diet and you don't need to get it from the sun."

Douglas said if you've got to have that golden glow, spray tanning is a safe, effective option.

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