People who use tanning beds do not protect themselves from skin damage from subsequent sun exposure. Use of sunbeds before age 35 substantially increases the risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer, the researchers found.
Melanoma is a type of cancer arising from the melanocyte cells of the skin. The melanocytes are cells in the skin that produce the pigment melanin. Malignant melanoma develops when the melanocytes no longer respond to normal control mechanisms of cellular growth and are capable of invasion locally or spread to other organs in the body (metastasis), where again they invade and compromise the function of that organ.
“Young adults should be discouraged from using indoor tanning equipment and restricted access to sunbeds by minors should be strongly considered,” the Working Group on artificial UV light and skin cancer of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concludes in the March 1 issue of the International Journal of Cancer.
Though it is difficult to prove that sunscreens statistically reduce the frequency of malignant melanoma at this time, most authorities recommend use as protection from ultraviolet light (considered a major factor in the development of melanoma.).
Reduction in exposure to ultraviolet light, especially early in life, and regular screening of those at increased risk are the best approaches to reducing mortality from melanomas. The overall five-year survival rate is 85 percent, and surgical excision of early tumors is usually curative. More effective treatment for advanced malignant melanoma is needed, however.