In the last installment of the Sarah-Palin/tanning-bed saga, we presented some of the positive research on tanning beds—research that has been mostly ignored by the American Academy of Dermatology and by the press. Since the volume of positive research regarding tanning was too great to treat in one post, we continue it here.
One of the latest studies showed no significant increase in melanoma with tanning bed use.[i] Have you ever heard of that research? Another study of five European countries showed that in France, where 20% of the population used tanning beds, their use was associated with a 19% increase in risk of melanoma.[ii] But in Sweden, where 83% of the population uses tanning beds, there was a 38% decrease in melanoma. Overall, the risk of melanoma was reduced by 10% in tanning-bed users, although individuals with fair skin and a high number of moles were at increased risk. I ask again, have you ever heard of that research? Of course not; it doesn’t sell sunscreens and does not help the drug business. Clearly, studies that indict tanning beds without taking into consideration skin type are flawed, and if they do not also differentiate between tanning and burning, they are doubly flawed.
We have clearly stated that burning correlates to an increased risk of melanoma. Unfortunately, most of the studies that associated tanning beds with increased melanoma did not control for burning. A very light skin that does not tan or has many moles or a skin condition that is sensitive to UV may preclude tanning-bed use by some individuals. Others who may have adverse effects to tanning bed exposure are organ transplant recipients or those taking photosensitive prescription drugs. If you do not know if your drug is photosensitive, ask a pharmacist.
The next post will finish this discussion about Sarah, vitamin D and tanning beds. Stay tuned!
[i] Clough-Gorr, K. et al. Exposure to sunlamps, tanning beds and melanoma risk. Cancer Causes Control. 2008;7:659-69
[ii] Bataille V, et al. A multicentre epidemiological study on tanning bed use and cutaneous melanoma in Europe. Eur J Cancer 2005;41:2141-49.