Skin Cancer Higher Rates Than Lung Cancer

Skin Cancer

The Skin Cancer Foundation has published information on the JAMA Dermatology study recently released (International Prevalence of Indoor Tanning–A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). In conclusion of the study, the number of skin cancer cases due to tanning beds was found to have a higher rate than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

In the United States, over 400,000 cases of skin cancer can be attributed to indoor tanning; out of the 400,000 are just over 6,000 melanoma cases.  35 percent of adults and 55 percent of college students have reported tanning in the past.  The Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) claims every year is another 419,000 skin cancer cases attributed to indoor tanning methods.  The SCF puts criticism on our cultural view that an artificial tan is in some way beautiful.

The Skin Cancer Foundation has an educational public announcement campaign called “Go With Your Own Glow,” designed to help women embrace their natural beauty and natural skin color.  The SCF recommends every one of all ages and skin color to limit exposure to the sun between 10 am and 4 pm, using a broad spectrum SPF of at least 15+ SPF (30+ is recommended for prolonged sun exposure).  Wide-brimmed hats, UV-protection sunglasses, and protective clothing will help prevent skin related cancers from developing.

The results of the study: Prevalence  in “ever exposure” to a tanning bed was discovered in 55 percent for university students, 19.3 percent for adolescents.  Of the past year, 14 percent adults have exposed themselves to indoor tanning beds, 43 percent for university students, and just over 18 percent for adolescents.  These results included data from 406,696 participants.  Population proportional risk factor was discovered to be between 3 and 21.8 percent for non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and between 2.6 to 9.4 percent for melanoma, corresponding to more than 450,000 NMSC cases and more than 10,000 melanoma cases each year attributed to indoor tanning in the United States, Europe, and Australia. Skin cancer showed a higher prevalence rate linked to tanning beds than lung cancer is linked to smoking.

Skin CancerThe Mayo Clinic describes skin cancer as an abnormal growth of skin cells, anywhere on the skin.  The three major types is reportedly basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.  Risk is lower in people who avoid or limit UV radiation exposure.  Symptoms can develop on sun exposed skin, or areas of the skin not exposed.  This includes scalp, face, ears, neck and chest, arms, hands, and legs.  Uncommon areas of skin cancer include, palms, under fingernails, toenails, and genital area.  Skin cancer can affect any skin pigmentation.The signs of basal cell carcinoma include pearly or waxy bumps, flat, flesh-colored or brown scar-like lesions.  Squamous cell carcinoma can present with a firm, red nodule, or a flat lesion with a scaly or crusted surface. Melanoma, on the other hand, often appears as an irregular shaped or progressively changing mole.  This condition is not self-diagnosed and requires early detection and treatment.

Some people who have been affected by these diseases feel that tanning beds should be banned in the United States.  Others further the claim that sunscreen, as it is manufactured today, does not protect for a long enough duration. The World Health Organization claims 132,000 cases of malignant melanoma, the most fatal skin cancer, and 2 million other cases of skin cancer occur each year worldwide. Because there is a higher rate of correlation between tanning beds and skin cancer than lung cancer to smoking, this study will likely prompt further investigation, and possibly new legislation.

By Lindsey Alexander


Skin Cancer Foundation
Jama Dermatology 
Mayo Clinic

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