Indoor tanning ups all skin cancer rates

Artificial sunbathing using ultraviolet lights–a practice already linked to melanoma, the rarest but deadliest form of skin cancer–increases the risk of all types of skin cancer, according to new data.

Margaret R. Karagas of Dartmouth Medical School in Lebanon, N.H., and her colleagues questioned 603 participants with basal-cell carcinoma, 293 with squamous-cell carcinoma, and 540 cancerfree people about their history of sun exposure, tanning-salon patronage, and other risk factors for skin cancer.

Participants with some history of indoor tanning were 1.5 times as likely to have basal-cell carcinoma and 2.5 times as likely to have squamous-cell carcinoma than were volunteers who had never tanned indoors. For those who began using tanning equipment before the age of 20, the risks were particularly high–1.8 and 3.6 times the basic risk for basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinoma, respectively. The researchers report their findings in the Feb. 6 Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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