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Indoor tanning may increase the risk of melanoma, according to researchers from the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center.

The study, led by DeAnn Lazovich, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health and coauthor of the Masonic Cancer Center’s Prevention and Etiology Research Program, involved 1,167 people with diagnosed melanoma and 1,101 people without melanoma (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010;May 26[epub ahead of print]). Among the participants, 62.9% of those with melanoma and 51.1% of those in the control group had tanned indoors. Participants completed a self-administered questionnaire, followed by a detailed one-hour telephone interview. Frequent use of tanning devices was defined as use of indoor tanning for 50 or more hours, more than 100 sessions, or for 10 or more years.

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Researchers found that no tanning is safe, regardless of age, gender, or device. Specifically, people who used any type of tanning bed for any amount of time were 74% more likely to develop melanoma, and frequent users of indoor tanning beds were 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop melanoma than those who never used tanning devices.

“We found that it didn’t matter the type of tanning device used; there was no safe tanning device,” said Dr. Lazovich in a press release.

“We also found—and this is new data—that the risk of getting melanoma is associated more with how much a person tans and not the age at which a person starts using tanning devices. Risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender, or device.”

According to background information provided by the study authors, melanoma accounts for only about 4% of all skin cancers but causes about 79% of all deaths from skin cancer. ONA