LEBANON, NEW HAMPSHIRE. Researchers at the Dartmouth Medical School warn that the use of sunlamps and sun beds is a potent risk factor for skin cancer. Their study involved 603 patients with basal cell carcinoma (BCC), 293 patients with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and 540 control subjects. Each participant was interviewed by the researchers to determine their sun sensitivity, sun bathing habits, and the use of artificial tanning devices. The researchers conclude that any use of a sunlamp or sun bed increases the risk of BCC by a factor of 2.5 and that of SCC by a factor of 1.5. These elevated risks are independent of age, sex, sun sensitivity, and extent of natural sun exposure. The use of artificial tanning devices at a young age was particularly detrimental with the risk of BCC increasing by 20 per cent and that of SCC by 10 per cent for each decade younger the patient was at the first use of the tanning device. It is particularly disturbing that high school girls are the most frequent users of tanning beds with over 50 per cent reporting having used one at least four times in the past 12 months.
Karagas, Margaret R., et al. Use of tanning devices and risk of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 94, February 6, 2002, pp. 224-26 (brief communication)