March 20, 2015
2 min read

Gay, bisexual men more likely to use indoor tanning, at higher risk for skin cancer

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact

SAN FRANCISCO — Gay and bisexual men were more likely to use indoor tanning devices and develop skin cancer compared with heterosexual men, according to research presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting here.

“Male patients who identify as gay or bisexual should reduce use of indoor tanning devices and see a dermatologist for skin cancer screening,” researcher Sarah Tuttleton Arron, MD, PhD, FAAD, an assistant professor of dermatology in residence, University of California, San Francisco, told

Sarah Aaron

Sarah Tuttleton Arron

In a poster presentation, Arron and colleagues reviewed data from the 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2009 California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and the 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). Participants included 192,701 men and women at least 18 years of age who identified as heterosexual or sexual minority. The researchers measured a self-reported lifetime history of skin cancer and a 12-month history of indoor tanning.

The likelihood was greater for sexual minority men compared with heterosexual men to report having skin cancer (2001-2005 CHIS: adjusted odds ratio = 1.56, 95% CI, 1.18-2.06; 2013 NHIS: aOR = 2.06; 95% CI, 1.11-3.84) and to report use of indoor tanning (2009 CHIS: aOR = 5.80, 95% CI, 2.05-16.97, 2013 NHIS: aOR=3.10, 95% CI, 1.74-5.55), according to the researchers.

Sexual minority women had a lesser likelihood to report having skin cancer compared with heterosexual women (2001-2005 CHIS: aOR = 0.56; 95% CI, 0.37-0.86) and to report indoor tanning (2009 CHIS: aOR = 0.43; 95% CI, 0.20-0.92; 2013 NHIS: aOR = 0.46; 95% CI, 0.17-0.68.)

The researchers reported this was the first study to research both skin cancer and indoor tanning prevalence by sexual orientation in adults. Limitations of the study included the reliance on self-reported cancer diagnosis, according to the researchers.

The researchers concluded that gay and bisexual men had an approximately twofold increased odds of developing skin cancer, including non-melanoma skin cancer and melanoma. The sexual minority cohort also had an approximately sixfold increased odds of participating in indoor tanning. However, sexual minority women had about half the odds of reporting skin cancer during their lifetime or reporting indoor tanning, according to the researchers.

“Dermatologists who see gay or bisexual male patients should counsel them to avoid tanning behavior and screen them for skin cancer,” Arron said. “Public heath interventions can raise awareness of this disparity in skin cancer risk and reduce the cultural association of tanned skin with attractiveness.” – by Bruce Thiel


Mansch M, et al. Paper #1577. Self-reported skin cancer diagnosis and indoor tanning device use vary by sexual orientation. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting. March 20-24, 2015; San Francisco.

Disclosures: Arron reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.