Melanoma accounts for only less than 2 percent of skin cancer, the most common of all cancers, but it is responsible for a large majority of skin cancer deaths, killing one person per hour.
Now, a new study has revealed the most likely individuals to develop the disease at an early age. A study involving adults between 25 and 49 years old has found that women and girls who used sunbeds or tanning beds before age 30 have a greater risk for developing melanoma at a young age.
DeAnn Lazovich, from the University of Minnesota, and colleagues aimed to evaluate the possible link between the use of tanning beds and melanoma cases among men and women who were younger than 50 years old. The rising rates of cancer in young women, without a corresponding rise for young men, inspired the researchers to study environmental factors such as cosmetic tanning.
They found that women who used tanning beds as teens and during their 20s have up to six times increased risk for the deadly skin cancer compared with their counterparts who did not tan indoors.
For their research, Lazovich and colleagues collected data on 681 individuals who were diagnosed with skin cancer. These data were then compared with those in a control group.
The data revealed that the women in their 30s had more than thrice the risk of developing melanoma if they tanned indoors. The risk is more than twice higher in women in their 40s.
Women below 40 years old, who were diagnosed with melanoma, were likewise found to start indoor tanning at an early age of 16. Those who were diagnosed with the illness when they were between 40 and 49 years old, on the other hand, started indoor tanning when they were 25 years old.
The researchers also observed that the women who were diagnosed with melanoma at an early age had more tanning sessions than those who were diagnosed at an older age.
Younger skin cancer patients had 100 tanning sessions on average while those who were diagnosed with the condition when they were more than 40 years old only had an average of 40 sessions.
The findings of this study backed up a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposal to ban indoor tanning to those below 18 years old as the use of sunbeds has been significantly linked to the development of skin cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) already classified indoor tanning as a human carcinogen in 2009.
Writing in their report published in the journal JAMA Dermatology on Jan. 27, the researchers cited the importance of restricting and reducing indoor tanning amid increasing incidence of melanoma cases particularly in the U.S.
"Our analysis reinforces findings from a recent report from Australia on indoor tanning and melanoma diagnosed at a young age and provides evidence that indoor tanning is a likely driver of diverging trends in men and women younger than 50 years in the United States." the researchers wrote in their study.
"Efforts need to be accelerated and expanded beyond bans on minor access to indoor tanning to curb the melanoma epidemic, which seems likely to continue unabated, especially among young women, unless exposure to indoor tanning is further restricted and reduced."