Tanning beds cause an increased risk of skin cancer among young people — especially those who have a family history of skin cancer.
Skin cancers are known to be the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and tanning beds and the sun may be contributing toward these high numbers.
Merkel cell, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas are among some of the most common types of skin cancer, with Merkel cell carcinoma gaining more awareness after singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffet died on Sept. 1 from the disease.
However, the “worst offender” regarding the increased risk of skin cancer is the use of tanning beds in younger people, Dr. Beth Goldstein, a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer at the Central Dermatology Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, told CURE®.
“We’re seeing people in their 20s and 30s (and tanning beds) markedly increase your risk of all forms of skin cancer, including doubling to tripling their risk of melanoma, if not more,” she said. “There are genetics that go with that, too. So, if you have a family history of skin cancer, particularly melanoma, and you did (use) tanning beds, then certainly, earlier on is when you may start seeing melanoma.”
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Goldstein told CURE® about the increased risk of skin cancer and melanomas caused by tanning beds and damage caused by the sun:
We're seeing people in their 20s and 30s that it markedly increases your risk of all forms of skin cancer, including doubling to tripling their risk of melanoma, if not more. There are genetics that go with that, too. So, if you have a family history of skin cancer, and particularly melanoma, and you did tanning beds, then certainly, earlier on is when you may start seeing those. For men over 50, are the other age group or demographic that's having increase in melanoma. But for young people, particularly young women, although young men as well, we see where they get multiple melanomas as a young person, not just that one or two, but they can have many. And so, if you've had a history of being in a tanning bed, and you've started to get changes in your moles, flat moles or raised moles that can be just a light brown changing spot. Gray doesn't have to be dark or black to be a problem. It can be pink even. So, if you're noticing changes in your spots, you really need to come in and be seen about every four to six months if you have that history.
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