Tanning beds raise melanoma risk: New research shows

New research indicates that indoor tanning beds sharply increase the risk of melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, and the risk increases over time. Experts now state that tanning in a bed for any amount of times increases the risk of melanoma by 74 percent. Frequent users are 2.5 to 3 times more likely to develop the skin cancer than people who never use them.

'We found that it didn't matter the type of tanning device used; there was no safe tanning device,' DeAnn Lazovich of the University of Minnesota told Reuters. Her study appeared in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. Previous studies had suggested younger people were at greater risk, but Lazovich said the risk rises with frequency of use, regardless of age, gender or the device used.

Melanoma accounts for about 3 percent of skin cancer cases but causes most skin cancer deaths. According to the American Cancer Society, 68,000 people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2009, and 8,650 died of it.

Dr. Allan Halpern, chief of dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York said the research findings strengthen the case for regulating tanning beds. He said the World Health Organization already classifies tanning beds as a human carcinogen, but in the United States, tanning beds are considered a class 1 medical device -- 'which is the equivalent of tongue depressors,' he said.