Tanning and Skin Cancer: A Brief Review
The prevalence of intentional solar tanning in Canada ranges from 4 to 49% depending on age and sex. The prevalence of tanning using artificial tanning devices in Canada ranges from 4 to 27% depending on age and sex. Both solar and artificial tanning are much more frequent in younger persons and in females. Although both solar and artificial ultraviolet radiation is categorized as a human carcinogen by IARC, less is known about the relationship between skin cancer and artificial tanning. In a review of available meta-analyses, the use of artificial tanning devices was associated with increased risks for cutaneous malignant melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but not basal cell carcinoma. In general, skin cancer is more common in individuals who have light skin colour, freckles, skin moles, and easy-to-burn skin that does not tan well. In addition, early-age exposure to ultraviolet radiation (both solar and artificial) was found to further increase the risk of skin cancer. Given the current knowledge on cancer risk and sunbed tanning, more comprehensive regulations are needed to control the artificial tanning industry. The suggested focus for regulations include on prohibiting the use of sunbeds by youths, prohibiting claims of health benefit, requiring tanning facilities to provide customers with accurate information conveying the risks of artificial tanning, requiring supervision of tanning devices by trained operators, and discouraging the use of sunbeds for individuals with susceptible skin characteristics.