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The Daily Wildcat


New study shows that women who use tanning beds drastically increase their odds of getting melanoma

National Cancer Institute
A melanoma patient’s mole measuring about 2.5 cm by 1.5 cm. A recent study has shown that women who use tanning beds increase their chance of melanoma six-fold.

Women who frequent tanning beds in their 20s increase their risk of melanoma six-fold, according to a new study.

The experiment, published last week in the journal JAMA Dermatology, investigated the incidence of melanoma for 1,335 individuals with varying tanning habits.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota discovered that women who used tanning beds in their 20s were six times more likely to get melanoma than those who didn’t. Additionally, they found that the women with the highest incidence of melanoma were those who were fair skinned and blue-eyed.

Melanoma, or cancer of the skin, can resemble a new mole, but it can metastasize to other parts of the body and be deadly if left untreated.

The authors acknowledged they found a much smaller association between tanning beds and melanoma in men. Specifically, they found that men who frequented tanning beds exhibited a two-fold increase in melanoma incidence.

Research concluded that this smaller incidence of melanoma was due to the less frequent visits to tanning beds by men. This finding further supports what has been known by scientists. Although melanoma rates have been rising, its frequency has been shown to diverge by sex, with women having a much higher occurrence than men.

This study brings a much greater sense of urgency for governments to address the pressing matter of tanning beds. In fact, many countries have already taken action. The World Health Organization officially labeled indoor tanning as a known carcinogen in 2009.

Additionally, it is well known in the medical community that the world is currently in a melanoma epidemic given the increasing incidence of the disease.

Given the proven association between tanning salons and cancer, many countries are looking into banning indoor tanning altogether. Brazil banned tanning salons for those under 18 in 2003 and all ages in 2009. Australia recently took a similar step just last year.

Furthermore, 11 states in the United States have banned the use of commercial tanning salons for those under 18, and the Food and Drug Administration proposed a nationwide ban in December.

So, if you have used a tanning bed lately, what are some melanoma warning signs to watch out for?

Dr. Mansi Sarihan, a dermatologist from Phoenix, explained the warning signs of melanoma and what you can do to reduce your risk of getting the disease.

“When checking for melanoma, a great acronym that you can use is ABCDE,” Sarihan said. “A stands for asymmetry, B stands for border, C stands for color, D stands for diameter and E stands for evolving.”

She stated that if you notice a suspicious mole possessing any of the following characteristics, make an appointment with your dermatologist right away. Specifically, if you see a suspicious mole that is asymmetric, has uneven borders, multiple (dark) colors, is greater than the size of a pencil eraser, or has changed shape in any way, get a melanoma screening by your dermatologist.

Sarihan also said that melanoma has a genetic component to it as well, stating that she typically recommends a monthly self-check for persons with a family history of melanoma.

Instead of tanning beds, Sarihan recommends self-tanning lotions, and said ultimately, it’s better to “be happy in your own skin.”

Follow Akshay Syal on Twitter.

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