Researchers say a new study from the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center definitively links the use of indoor tanning devices to increased risk of melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
This research study involving 2,268 Minnesotans is the largest of its kind. It found:
DeAnn Lazovich, Ph.D., led the research team on this study. Lazovich is an associate professor of epidemiology with the School of Public Health and co-leader of the Masonic Cancer Center's Prevention and Etiology Research Program. The study findings are published online on May 27 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
"We found that it didn't matter the type of tanning device used; there was no safe tanning device," Lazovich said. "We also found -- and this is new data -- that the risk of getting melanoma is associated more with how much a person tans and not the age at which a person starts using tanning devices. Risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender, or device."
Melanoma is one of the fastest increasing cancers across the United States and in Minnesota. About 69,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with melanoma this year; nearly 1,000 of those people will be Minnesotans. Although melanoma accounts for only about 4 percent of all skin cancer, it causes about 79 percent of all deaths from skin cancer. In a more advanced state, melanoma is especially difficult to successfully treat.
Before this study, indoor tanning has been only weakly associated with melanoma risk, Lazovich said.
"Most reports were not able to adjust for sun exposure, confirm a dose-response, or examine specific tanning devices," she said. "Our population-based, case-control study was conducted to address these limitations."
Lazovich and her colleagues assessed Minnesota cases of invasive cutaneous melanoma diagnosed between 2004 and 2007 at ages 25-59. The study participants and results included:
Funding for this research was provided by the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. Working with Lazovich on this study: Rachel Isaksson Vogel and Kristin Anderson, University of Minnesota; Erin Warshaw, VA Medical Center, Minneapolis; Marianne Berwick, University of New Mexico Cancer Center, Albuquerque; and Martin Weinstock, Brown University, Providence, RI.
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