The advantages of hitting a tanning salon are typically cited as convenience, getting a more even tan and, maybe most important, safety.

But according to a new study, you can toss that last advantage out the window.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Norris Cotton Cancer Center and director of the Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research Center at Dartmouth, found the ultraviolet (UV) radiation lamps used for indoor tanning put adolescents and young adults at risk for basal cell carcinomas (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer.

"Our findings suggest that teens and young adults who seek indoor tanning may be especially vulnerable to developing BCC, the most common form of skin cancer, at a young age," explained professor Margaret Karagas from Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Researchers are also pointing out that since tanning facilities are predominantly frequented by a younger demographic, there is an immediate need to counsel young people about the increased risks of developing skin cancer when using indoor tanning facilities.

A recent survey conducted by the same group in New Hampshire found that nearly 74 percent of high schools in the state have at least one tanning salon within a two-mile radius.

In the study on the effects of indoor tanning, the researchers collected data on 657 participants. The data included the variety of different indoor tanning devices the participants used, including sunlamps, tanning beds or booths.

Once the data on each participant was evaluated, researchers discovered those showing an early onset of BCC were more vulnerable to burns than tanning during the initial hours of exposure to the sun in summers. 

Also of note was the fact that in nearly 40 percent of the cases, BCC was found on the torso and places other than the head and neck and the relation with indoor tanning was higher for tumors occurring in these places. This association was present in all the participants that showed the early onset of BCC, regardless of the particular indoor tanning device they used.

The study's research also concluded that the devices used in indoor tanning facilities produced 10 to 15 times as much UV rays as the midday sun.

In a recent study conducted by JAMA Dermatology, these findings were also released:

* The number of skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking; and

* In the U.S. alone, 419,254 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning. Out of this number, 6,199 are melanoma cases.

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