Healthy Living

Indoor Tanning Risks Go Beyond Skin Cancer

Mar. 20, 2015
Are you seeking that “base tan” before your vacation? If the obvious risk of skin cancer isn’t enough to keep you away from indoor tanning, consider some of the lesser-known dangers—many of which bring some artificial-sun worshippers to emergency departments and urgent care clinics.
woman in tanning booth
UR Medicine Primary Care physician Dr. Assaf Yosha points to an articlepublished in JAMA Internal Medicine to shed light on more immediate risks that you may not have considered. 
The research looked at nonfatal indoor tanning-related injury data from 2003 to 2012, from a sample of hospital emergency departments across the country.
It revealed indoor tanning as the culprit in an average of 3,234 injuries that result in visits to EDs each year—and that estimate is on the low side, since cases seen at urgent cares or by primary care physicians, or not seen by a medical professional at all, were not included in this study. 
The most prevalent nonfatal indoor tanning-related injuries were identified as:
  • Skin burns (79.5 percent);
  • Passing out, or syncope (9.5 percent); and 
  • Eye injuries (5.8 percent).
In addition to short-term issues, these acute injuries add to the likelihood of long-term problems. Skin burns raise the risk of later skin cancer, and eye burns increase the chances a person may end up with ocular melanoma.
Who puts themselves most at risk? Parents of daughters take note: Of those injured, most are female (82.2 percent), non-Hispanic white (77.8 percent), and 18 to 24 years old (35.5 percent). This group still flocks to tanning parlors despite years of warnings that tanning is bad for your health.
Melanoma is the second most common cancer in women 20 to 29 years old, and one in three women between the ages of 16 and 25 uses a tanning bed at least once a year, according to The American Academy of Dermatology.
So have a conversation with your young adults about the dangers of indoor tanning, and make sure you are modeling the best behavior and are not tanning yourself. 
It could save a life.
Assaf Yosha, MD
Assaf Yosha, M.D., with UR Medicine Primary Care colleagues Katherine Eisenberg, M.D., and Amy Potter, M.D., recently opened North Ponds Family Medicine & Maternity Care at 55 Barrett Drive in Webster.