An age restriction on indoor tanning could save thousands of lives and millions of dollars, according to new research published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.
In December 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed an age restriction on indoor tanning for minors under the age of 18. In the new study, published on Dec. 6, 2016, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that this age restriction could prevent 61,839 melanoma cases and 6,735 melanoma deaths, and save $342.9 million in melanoma treatment costs over the lifetime of the 61.2 million children age 14 and younger in the U.S.
"An age restriction on indoor tanning could be a significant step forward in the fight against skin cancer," says study author Gery P. Guy, PhD, MPH, a health economist in the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control's Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch. "By restricting the use of indoor tanning devices among minors, we could potentially save thousands of lives."
Indoor tanning exposes users to harmful ultraviolet radiation, the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. In fact, using an indoor tanning bed before age 35 can increase one's risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent, and the risk increases with each use.
In this most recent study, the CDC researchers estimate that the FDA's proposed age restriction could reduce the overall prevalence of indoor tanning in the United States by 29 percent. According to the study, a reduction of just 20 percent could potentially prevent 40,410 melanoma cases and 4,286 melanoma deaths, and save $219 million in melanoma treatment costs; a complete elimination of indoor tanning could potentially prevent 202,662 melanoma cases and 23,266 melanoma deaths, and save $1.1 billion in melanoma treatment costs.
"This research concretely demonstrates the potential health benefits of an under-18 age restriction for indoor tanning," says board-certified dermatologist Abel Torres, MD, JD, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association. "The AADA has supported this age restriction since the FDA announced it last year, and we hope this study motivates the FDA to save lives and lower health care costs by finalizing this proposal as soon as possible. Moreover, we hope these dramatic figures remind the public, especially young people, to stay out of indoor tanning beds."
American Academy of Dermatology