Base tan does not protect from skin cancer risk: studies
Lesley Ciarula Taylor, Toronto Star
There is no such thing as a safe tan regardless of how dark-skinned you are and tanning beds breed their own cancer, two comprehensive new studies report.
“One big misconception was that you could get a light tan, a base tan, and then feel protected. These are myths, they just aren’t real,” said Dr. Edward DeFabo of George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
The second study, by European cancer researchers, revealed 3,438 cases of skin cancer were caused specifically by sunbed use, with each exposure jacking up the risk to fully double if the tanner was under 35.
DeFabo and other scientists proved that UVA rays, which are particularly intense from tanning salon lamps, acting on skin pigment create a lethal combination that exploded into skin cancer.
“I didn’t believe it when I first saw it,” DeFabo told the Star. “We believed pigment protected us.”
And so scientists spent another year testing and verifying their results.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, reveal that skin pigment, melanin, is the key factor in triggering the genetic damage that leads to malignant melanoma when exposed to UVA rays.
“UVB is still the major player in melanoma. UVA plus melanin not far behind,” DeFabo said.
“There is an enormous amount of UVA coming out of tanning lamps.”
In fact, dark skin pigment produced spontaneous UVA melanomas that even rare albino skin did not, he said. Albino skin was still susceptible to UVB melanomas.
The European analysis of 27 skin cancers studies in 18 countries also found dark skin was not the absolute protection it was thought to be when using tanning beds.