Melanoma, which is the most common form of cancer for individuals aged 25-29 years; and second most prevalent cancer in those aged 15-29 years, is the most lethal form of skin cancer and figures show that the incidence rates of melanoma have been rising for at least three decades.
Exposure to ultraviolet light used in tanning beds increases the risk of developing melanoma - particularly in women under 45 years of age.
Although the tanning industry have tried to convince the public that indoor tanning is safe, dermatologists state that they are a public health hazard and new evidence supports these claims.
According to the tanning industry "There is not strong evidence linking indoor tanning to skin cancer."
However, dermatologist have been examining the association between indoor tanning and skin cancer for two decades. Recent studies provide new evidence that indoor tanning can cause skin cancer and are a serious health threat - especially to young people.
Just like tobacco smoke, UV radiation from indoor tanning has been classified as carcinogenic and dangerous to humans by The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer.
In addition, researchers have found that individuals are 75% more likely to develop melanoma if they had been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
A 2010 study that involved 1,167 cases of melanoma diagnosed in people aged between 25 to 59, found that 62.9% of participants diagnosed with melanoma had tanned indoors. Furthermore, the team found that the risk of developing melanoma increased with use of tanning beds regardless of the age when indoor tanning began.
The tanning industry also claims that indoor tanning is a controlled way to receive sun exposure.
They argue that if indoor tanning is banned, people will just go outdoors to receive sun exposure. Dermatologists on the other hand argue that individuals living in northern states are not exposed to intense, natural ultraviolet light for the majority of the year. Other research shows that in the largest cities in the United States, there are almost 12 indoor tanning salons for every 100,000 people.
The tanning industry also states that indoor tanning provides health benefits.
However, researchers state that exposure to both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from sun or indoor tanning devices is a known risk factor for the development of skin cancer.
The tanning industry argue that UVA exposure is a good source of vitamin D. But, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a consent order prohibiting the Indoor Tanning Association from making false claims regarding the health benefits of indoor tanning.
Furthermore, dermatologists highlight that UV rays are not very efficient in creating vitamin D in the skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, individuals should obtain vitamin D safely from a healthy diet that included food naturally rich in vitamin D, rather than by sun exposure or indoor tanning, which can cause skin cancer.
The tanning industry also state that tanning bed operators are well-trained and adhere to high standards.
However, according to a 2012 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce investigative report:
"False and Misleading Health Information Provided by the Indoor Tanning Industry," and found that "the vast majority of tanning salons contacted by the Committee investigators provided false information about the serious risks of indoor tanning and made specious claims about the health benefits that indoor tanning provides."
They found that:
- Nearly all salons denied the known risks of indoor tanning
- Four out of five salons falsely claimed that indoor tanning is beneficial to a young person's health
- Salons used many approaches to downplay the health risks of indoor tanning
- Tanning salons fail to follow FDA recommendations on tanning frequency
- Tanning salons target teenage girls in their advertisements