Tanning bed ban would 'reduce skin cancer rates in minors'

·2-min read

Although the risks of using tanning beds are well known, the use of them are still very common.

Tanning beds, which give a person an artificial tan by imitating the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation, have been linked to an increased risk of melanoma, a form of skin cancer often caused by too much sun exposure, with the highest risk in those who start using tanning beds at a young age.

Although many countries have banned tanning beds or put an age limit on them, in America, it is still common practice for adolescents to use them, so a recent study, published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, has evaluated the costs and benefits of introducing a ban on minors in the U.S.

The research team modelled the life course of the U.S. population aged between 14 and 17 years and compared two situations: ban versus no ban, and discovered that a ban would prevent 15,101 melanoma cases and 3,299 melanoma recurrences among 17.1 million minors, saving $61 (£44) in direct and indirect healthcare costs per minor.

After incorporating the costs of implementing and enforcing the policy as well the lost revenue to the tanning industry, the team found that a ban still saved $12 (£9) per minor and a total of $205.4 million (£150 million) over the lifetimes of 17.1 million minors.

"A ban on tanning bed use in minors is not universal in Canada and the U.S. In Brazil and Australia there is a total ban not just in minors, while in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom, national bans exist for those under the age of 18," said lead author Antoine Eskander, MD, of the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

"This work demonstrates the societal implications of a ban in North America and points to the value of this policy, which should be considered by state, provincial, and national/federal governments," added co-senior author David Goldstein, MD, of the University of Toronto and Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.