By Kennedy Shelley
Is that trip to the tanning bed increasing your skin cancer risk?
While there has been some concern that it might increase melanoma, which is the form of skin cancer that kills the most people, but some of the less fatal versions of skin cancer have not been studied, until now.
Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common form of skin cancer.
The top layer of the skin is the epidermis.
The next skin layer is the squamous which is near the top of the skin.
These cancers can initially appear to be crusty skin and while they are initially unsightly, if left untreated they can become deadly.
Sun exposure is thought to be the most likely cause because the cancer appears most often in areas that get extra sun exposure such as the face and hands.
But it can appear in areas that get virtually no sun exposure too.
Until now, no study has looked at the effect of tanning beds and SCC over time.
In other words, does long term exposure to tanning rays increase your risk.
The new study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s publication Dermatology.
The scientists looked at data from international sources. They studied over 150,000 people by looking at various health databases in Norway.
They were able to look at age, race, smoking status and hair color. They also checked to see if people get freckles easily and how many sunburns people get each year.
Then they found the people who used tanning beds and how often they use them over a 15-year period.
Nearly 600 women who used the tanning beds developed SCC. The risk of developing skin cancer did go up the more the women used tanning beds.
The risk was significant even when you adjust for other risk factors such as outdoor tanning and getting sunburn.
The relative risk increased risk of developing skin cancer was 83%.
There was no difference in the SCC risk with how long you have been doing tanning beds. So, doing this at an early age doesn’t seem to increase the risk.
This study was exclusively focused on women because it was based on the Norwegian Women and Cancer study which had the best data on the subject.
But the overall dose rate does affect the cancer rate.
So, the longer you do indoor tanning, the higher your risk of developing SCC is.
Every session increases your risk.
This is not a perfect study. There was no control for the intensity of the radiation from the tanning beds for instance.
And the study did not prove a direct link that the beds were causing SCC, but for tanning bed users this may be a cause for concern.
If you are a long term user of tanning beds, you may want to visit the Skin Cancer Foundation website to learn more about the signs and symptoms of SCC.