Tanning bed use in Europe has resulted in an estimated 3,400 cases of cutaneous melanoma annually and increased bed users’ relative risk for skin cancer by 20% compared with nonusers, according to study results.
Researchers analyzed 27 skin cancer studies (18 in Europe, seven in the United States and Canada, two in Australia) published between 1981 and 2012, including 11,428 melanoma cases. Meta-analysis showed positive estimates of tanning bed use vs. nonuse (summary RR=1.20; 95% CI, 1.08-1.34), with heterogeneity (I2=56%). A slightly higher summary RR of 1.25 (95% CI, 1.09-1.43) resulted when analysis was restricted to Europe.
Individuals who first used tanning beds before the age of 35 years nearly doubled their risk for skin cancer (RR=1.87; 95% CI, 1.41-2.48) with no indication of heterogeneity (I2=0). That risk increased with the number of tanning sessions.
Researchers also extracted melanoma data from GLOBOCAN 2008 and reviewed 63,942 new cases of cutaneous melanoma diagnosed annually in 18 western European countries. They estimated 3,438 (5.4%) were related to tanning bed use (2,341 cases, women). Using a melanoma incidence-to-mortality ratio limited to the original 15 European Communities countries, researchers estimated that about 794 people (498 women) would die each year from a melanoma resulting from indoor tanning.
“Discouraging [tanning bed] use or requiring parental authorization is not effective, partly because parents of teenagers … are also [tanning bed] users themselves,” researchers concluded. “If … use by teenagers and young adults does not substantially decrease in the short term, then more radical actions should be envisioned, such as the nationwide prohibition of the public use of tanning devices.”