Do you want to know what one of the greatest pet peeves of a Phoenix dermatologist is? Tanning beds. I’m sure you can imagine why, but were you aware of the fact that tanning beds not only raise your risk for melanoma, but for non-melanoma skin cancers as well. Dr. Racette here at Family Practice Specialists, our in-house dermatologist, focus on skin cancer prevention, which is one of the reasons why tanning beds are such an annoyance.
Tanning Beds Cancer Risk
While we know how harmful tanning beds are for our skin, especially here in Phoenix where we expose our skin to harmful UV Rays every day of the summer, it’s always enlightening to review just how harmful tanning beds can be. In a recent study published in the journal BMJ, results were astonishing, even for those seasoned dermatologists who see skin cancer incidents quite often here in Phoenix.
Specifically, people who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 29% more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma than people who never used them. This risk was highest among people who started to tan before their 25th birthday.
If you didn’t catch that, let me repeat it. Those who used tanning beds were 67% more likely to develop skin cancer than people who never used them. While squamous cell skin cancer is not as dramatic or life-altering as melanoma, it is a very serious form of skin cancer that must be treated early.
Squamous cell skin cancer is the second most common skin cancer and occurs most often due to over-exposure to chemicals, ultraviolet radiation (sunlight, tanning beds), and/or burns. While this form of cancer is not as detrimental, not treated properly it can quickly spread to the lymph nodes. Treatment involves complete removal of the affected skin and possibly chemotherapy. However, if your Phoenix dermatologist can get to it early and treat it properly the cure rate is very high.
Tanning Bed Posted Warnings
As we speak, the FDA is debating how to toughen warnings on tanning beds and commercial UV Rays in order to make people aware of the cancer threat in using these products. Many cancer organizations as well as Phoenix dermatologists and dermatological associations are in favor of increasing tanning bed warnings, especially for young tanners.
“This action by the FDA confirms what research has told us for years: Indoor tanning beds can cause skin cancer, including melanoma – which can be fatal – and are especially dangerous for children,” said Dr. Susan Sanders, president of the N.C. Dermatology Association, in an email. “However, warning labels are not sufficient to keep kids from smoking, and they aren’t sufficient protection from tanning beds. The best way to protect kids from the dangers of tanning beds and skin cancer is to prohibit minors from using them.”
What do you think? Should tanning beds come with a tougher warning?
4350 E. Camelback Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85018