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Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year, with higher rates of melanoma incidents in young females. Encourage the young women in your life to learn about the potential damage being done and their increased risk of developing melanoma.

Below are statistics taken directly from the American Academy of Dermatology. See the full report here www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care.

Indoor tanning use 

  • Thirty-five percent of American adults, 59 percent of college students, and 17 percent of teens have reported using a tanning bed in their lifetime.
  • Approximately 7.8 million adult women and 1.9 million adult men in the United States tan indoors.
  • Research indicates that more than half of indoor tanners (52.5 percent) start tanning before age 21, while nearly one-third (32.7 percent) start tanning before age 18.
      • 44.5 percent of those who started tanning before age 16 reported that they did so with a family member.
      • 49.2 percent of those who started tanning with a family member did so with their mother.
  • About 10 percent of Caucasian female high school students have tanned indoors.
  • Nearly 70 percent of tanning salon patrons are Caucasian girls and young women, and melanoma is the second most common cancer in females age 15-29.
  • Approximately 15 percent of Caucasian women age 18-30 engage in frequent indoor tanning.
  • The indoor tanning industry’s revenue is estimated to be $5 billion in a year.

Risks of indoor tanning

  • The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel have declared ultraviolet radiation from the sun and artificial sources, such as tanning beds and sun lamps, to be a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
    • Research indicates that UV light from the sun and tanning beds can both cause melanoma and increase the risk of a benign mole progressing to melanoma.
  • Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources, including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc., emits UVA and UVB radiation. The amount of the radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to that of the sun, and in some cases might be stronger.
  • Evidence from multiple studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.
    • Researchers estimate that indoor tanning may cause upwards of 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year.
    • Higher melanoma rates among young females compared to young males may be due in part to widespread use of indoor tanning among females.
  • Using indoor tanning beds before age 35 can increase your risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 59 percent; the risk increases with each use.
    • Women younger than 30 are six times more likely to develop melanoma if they tan indoors.
    • Research demonstrates that even people who do not burn after indoor tanning or sun exposure are at an increased risk of melanoma if they tan indoors.
  • Even one indoor tanning session can increase users’ risk of developing melanoma by 20 percent, squamous cell carcinoma by 67 percent and basal cell carcinoma by 29 percent.    
    • Indoor tanning before age 24 increases one’s risk of developing basal cell carcinoma by age 50.
  • The estimated cost of treating skin cancers attributable to indoor tanning is $343.1 million a year, leading to a total economic loss of $127.3 billion over the lifetime of those affected.
  • Studies have demonstrated that exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning damages the DNA in the skin cells. Excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can lead to premature skin aging, immune suppression, and eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.
    • A recent investigation estimated that 3,234 injuries related to indoor tanning — including burns, loss of consciousness and eye injuries — were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments every year from 2003 to 2012.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned risks, frequent, intentional exposure to UV light may lead to tanning addiction.
    • Research indicates that more than one-fifth of Caucasian women age 18-30 exhibit indoor tanning dependence.
  • Indoor tanning beds/lamps should be avoided and should not be used to obtain vitamin D because UV radiation from indoor tanning is a risk factor for skin cancer. Vitamin D can be obtained by eating a healthy diet and by taking oral supplements.

Legislation and regulations

  • In May 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued new regulations strengthening warnings for indoor tanning devices. These regulations include:
    • A strong recommendation against the use of tanning beds by minors under 18.
    • The reclassification of tanning beds and sunlamps from Class I to a Class II medical devices, which means they are considered “moderate to high risk.” The FDA mandates additional oversight of Class II devices, requiring manufacturers to provide more safety assurances.
    • Labeling that:
      • Clearly informs users about the risks of using tanning beds
      • Warns frequent users of sunlamps to be regularly screened for skin cancer.
      • Alerts users that tanning lamps are not recommended for people under 18 years old.
  • The American Academy of Dermatology Association supports state and national efforts that place restrictions on indoor tanning for minors, including restrictions on indoor tanning for minors 18 and under.
  • California, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia have passed laws that prohibit minors under the age of 18 from indoor tanning.
    • Minors under the age of 18 are prohibited from using tanning devices in three counties in Maryland: Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Howard County.
  • Oregon and Washington have passed laws prohibiting minors under the age of 18 years old from using indoor tanning devices, unless a prescription is provided.
  • Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania have passed legislation banning minors under the age of 17 from using tanning devices.
  • Minors under the age of 16 are prohibited from using tanning devices in Indiana and Wisconsin, while minors under the age of 14 are prohibited from using tanning devices in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Maine and North Dakota.

Academy position statement on indoor tanning.

  • The AADA opposes indoor tanning and supports a ban on the production and sale of indoor tanning equipment for nonmedical purposes.
  • The AADA supports the WHO recommendation that minors should not use indoor tanning equipment because indoor tanning devices emit UVA and UVB radiation, and because overexposure to UV radiation can lead to the development of skin cancer.
  • Unless and until the FDA bans the sale and use of indoor tanning equipment for nonmedical purposes, the Academy supports restrictions for indoor tanning facilities, including:
    • No person or facility should advertise the use of any UVA or UVB tanning device using wording such as “safe,” “safe tanning,” “no harmful rays,” “no adverse effect,” or similar wording or concepts.