A Personal Account
Brittany Lietz, Miss Maryland 2006

Brittany Lietz, Miss Maryland 2006, was an avid indoor tanner as a teen, until she was diagnosed with melanoma. Watch a video (below) of her story, read the interview transcript or learn more about her skin cancer awareness platform.

View the video larger on YouTube

The Myths
 

Representatives of the indoor tanning industry may imply that indoor tanning is NOT linked to cancer, that it may even prevent cancer, and that it is less risky than tanning in the sun. Do not believe them—they have a multi-billion dollar motive to understate the risks. Would you take nutrition advice from the fast food industry?

The Scientific Evidence
 
  • Using indoor tanning increases one’s chances of developing melanoma—the most fatal type of skin cancer—especially when indoor tanning occurs before the age of 35 (1). Indoor tanning also has been linked to squamous cell skin cancer (1). These conclusions were reached by an international team of respected skin cancer researchers. The researchers synthesized the findings of 19 studies that examined whether those who used indoor tanning were more likely to develop skin cancer compared to those who had not used indoor tanning (1). This included a study that followed over 100,000 participants for several years (2).
  • Furthermore, a well-conducted laboratory study found that indoor tanning caused molecular (genetic) damage to the skin—the type of damage associated with skin cancer (3).
  • Indoor tanning also can cause burns to both the skin and eyes and it prematurely ages and wrinkles the skin (4-5).

Because of the dangers of indoor tanning, many health organizations have recommended that people avoid using indoor tanning. And the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that youth (those under age 18 years) be banned from using indoor tanning altogether.

Even with these warnings, many U.S. youth—especially teen girls—are using indoor tanning (6-9). In one large national study, 40% of the 17-18 year old girls had tanned indoors in the past year (6).

Reference:

1. International Agency for Research on Cancer Working Group on artificial ultraviolet (UV) light and skin cancer. (2007). The association of use of sunbeds with cutaneous malignant melanoma and other skin cancers: A systematic review. International Journal of Cancer.Journal International Du Cancer, 120(5), 1116-1122.
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2. Veierød, M. B., Weiderpass, E., Thörn, M., Hansson, J., Lund, E., Armstrong, B., et al. (2003). A prospective study of pigmentation, sun exposure, and risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma in women. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 95(20), 1530-1538.
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3. Whitmore, S. E., Morison, W. L., Potten, C. S., & Chadwick, C. (2001). Tanning salon exposure and molecular alterations. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 44(5), 775-780.
Pubmed Abstract

4. Levine, J. A., Sorace, M., Spencer, J., & Siegel, D. M. (2005). The indoor UV tanning industry: A review of skin cancer risk, health benefit claims, and regulation. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 53(6), 1038-1044.
Pubmed Abstract

5. Ma, W., Wlaschek, M., Tantcheva-Poor, I., Schneider, L. A., Naderi, L., Razi-Wolf, Z., et al. (2001). Chronological ageing and photoageing of the fibroblasts and the dermal connective tissue. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 26(7), 592-599.
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6. Cokkinides, V. E., Weinstock, M. A., O'Connell, M. C., & Thun, M. J. (2002). Use of indoor tanning sunlamps by US youth, ages 11-18 years, and by their parent or guardian caregivers: Prevalence and correlates. Pediatrics, 109(6), 1124-1130.
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7. Demko, C. A., Borawski, E. A., Debanne, S. M., Cooper, K. D., & Stange, K. C. (2003). Use of indoor tanning facilities by white adolescents in the United States. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 157(9), 854-860.
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8. Geller, A. C., Colditz, G., Oliveria, S., Emmons, K., Jorgensen, C., Aweh, G. N., et al. (2002). Use of sunscreen, sunburning rates, and tanning bed use among more than 10 000 US children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 109(6), 1009-1014.
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9. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. QuickStats: Percentage of Teens Aged 14-17 Years Who Used Indoor Tanning Devices During the Preceding 12 Months, by Sex and Age--United States, 2005. (2006). MMWR, 55(40), 1101.
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