Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis published in the BMJ confirm those from previous studies linking sun bed use with an increased risk for skin cancer.
Indoor tanning has already been linked with an increased risk for melanoma, but these findings add squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) to the list, say researchers, with more than 170,000 new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer per year attributable to sun bed use in the USA alone.
"The numbers are striking - hundreds of thousands of cancers each year are attributed to tanning beds," said study author Eleni Linos (University of California San Francisco, USA) in a press statement. "This creates a huge opportunity for cancer prevention."
The team included 12 indoor tanning studies in their analysis with 9328 cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer (SCC and/or BCC) in total.
For people who reported ever using indoor tanning versus never using it, the relative risk for SCC was increased by 67% and for BCC by 29%, both of which increases were statistically significant.
Linos and colleagues estimated that the population attributable risk in the USA for SCC and BCC caused by sun bed use was 8.2% and 3.7%, respectively, corresponding to more than 170,000 cases per year.
Three studies took age into account, and the investigators note that the relative risk for SCC and BCC seemed to be higher in people who used indoor tanning beds before the age of 25 years compared with those who did not, at 2.02 and 1.40, respectively.
"These findings contribute to the growing body of evidence on the harms of indoor tanning and support public health campaigns and regulation to reduce exposure to this carcinogen," write the authors.
"Australia and Europe have already led the way in banning tanning beds for children and teenagers, and Brazil has completely banned tanning beds for all ages," commented Linos.
"I hope that our study supports policy and public health campaigns to limit this carcinogen in the [USA]."
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