These Tanning-Bed Users Were Diagnosed with Melanoma

by Anne Windermere Patient Advocate

Our mission on both MySkinCareConnection and SkinCancerConnection
is to give you the facts you need to make wise choices about your skin. One of the more controversial topics we discuss on our skin sites is about the use of tanning beds. We get a lot of comments to older posts from representatives of the tanning bed industry. I think it is time to dispel a lot of the myths being perpetuated about the use of tanning beds so that you can make wise decisions, based not upon marketing schemes, but upon facts.

One fact to consider is that melanoma
is no longer an "old person's disease." In recent decades, there has been a dramatic increase of melanoma among young people and especially young women. When we hear about women in their twenties being diagnosed with a potentially deadly melanoma, there is something wrong. This should not be happening. Most experts agree that the increase in melanoma rates in people so young is directly correlated to an increase in tanning including the use of tanning beds. Beyond the facts and figures, the rhetoric, and the arguments, there are real people who are being told that they have melanoma skin cancer following years of tanning bed use.

There are many comments posted to our skin care article, The Dangers of Tanning Beds
but one comment stands out among all the others. A member called Concerned Mom writes to us to share her daughter's story.

My daughter is 28 years old. she has used tanning beds for about 10 years...none in the last year and a half. we have zero incidence of cancer in our family (except prostate) on either side and it goes back generations with no other cancer. we were told for years that tanning beds were safer than the sun..why did we listen to that? I don't know but my baby girl has been diagnosed with malignant melanoma. from the research I have done, this is the #1 cancer in young women 19-29 with breast cancer second among 30-34 year old women. (experts please correct me if I have my info incorrect) the incidence is increasing in younger women. melanoma has more than tripled in the last 10 years. This is NO JOKE Taking a chance with your life is not worth it. Our family is devastated and from everything I have read, tanning beds are a big part of this increase in melanoma. Don't be stupid like we were. we will deal with this forever now as once you have it you must be very careful. We are waiting on final pathology report to come this week after her second surgery in one weeks time. PLEASE be safe everyone. I sure wish we could have a DO-OVER! Good luck...get a complete body mole check every year and to those working in tanning salons, get that check up immediately. You are ignorant if you think it cannot happen to you!

Despite the tanning industry's attempts to convince us that tanning beds are safe, there are many young people who will be diagnosed with a potentially deadly melanoma. If you think that Concerned Mom's story is unique guess again. She is accurate in her citation of statistics that melanoma is now considered to be one of the most common types of cancer for young adults in the United States.

Here are some other facts to consider:

  • The National Cancer Institute provides an alarming statistic: "The annual incidence of invasive cutaneous melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increased among Caucasian women in the United States aged 15 to 39 by 50 percent between 1980 and 2004." One of the reasons postulated for this significant increase in deadly melanomas among young women is the use of tanning beds.

  • The Skin Cancer Foundation
    reports that melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.

  • If you think that tan from a tanning bed is safe consider the statistic given by the Skin Cancer Foundation that the first exposure to tanning beds in youth increases melanoma risk by 75 percent.

If you wonder what the motivation is for tanning industry folk to frequent skin cancer sites such as ours to attempt to sway public opinion, the Skin Cancer Foundation tells us that the indoor tanning industry has an annual estimated revenue of $5 billion dollars. It is logical to assume that they wish to protect their financial interests.

Concerned mom's daughter is not alone in being diagnosed with melanoma after having used tanning beds for years. There are numerous stories on the Internet from young women who wish to warn others not to follow in their footsteps.

Here are just a few of those personal experience stories for you to read.

  • On the Melanoma Foundation website melanoma survivor Meghan Rothschild
    shares her story of how she was diagnosed with melanoma at the young age of twenty. She had used tanning beds for several years before being diagnosed with Stage 2 Malignant Melanoma.

  • Another story comes from a mom who writes about her daughter Kristi who also got diagnosed with malignant melanoma when she was only 20 years old. Her daughter's dermatologist attributes tanning bed usage as the cause. Kristi's mother, Kathi, is quoted in the article as saying, "They do not realize that it (melanoma) is the deadliest form of skin cancer and kills one person every hour."

  • The American Academy of Dermatology website presents the stories of two young women who had used tanning beds because they had been told that it was safe to do so. Some years later they were both diagnosed with melanoma. Both women are angry that they were not told of the real risks to their health when they used tanning beds. One of the women, Diana, is quoted in the article as asking a question many of us also wonder "Why do we continue to let tanning beds kill people?" Many people are now urging legislators to pose strict regulations on tanning bed use and especially for minors.

The bottom line is that there is no reason to get a tan using a tanning bed. The "health benefits" of tanning beds is a fabrication of the tanning bed industry to keep selling their wares. In fact one CBS news report states that early last year, the Federal Trade Commission charged the Indoor Tanning Association with making false claims about the health benefits of their products. In my next post we are going to address some of the myths perpetuated about tanning beds and what the real facts are. So stay tuned.

If you are a skin cancer survivor we do encourage you to post your story here. Your story could help someone else who is going through a similar experience. You never know when your words might save a life.

Anne Windermere
Meet Our Writer
Anne Windermere

These articles were written by a longtime HealthCentral community member who shared valuable insights from her experience living with multiple chronic health conditions. She used the pen name "Merely Me."