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SCC Risk Nearly 2-Fold Higher for All Indoor Tanners

Indoor tanning is associated with an increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), regardless of cumulative exposure or age, according to the findings of a recent study.

In the study, the researchers assessed questionnaires of 159,419 women born from 1927 to 1963 who were enrolled in the Norwegian Women and Cancer study. The Norwegian Women and Cancer study was established in 1991 and followed participants until December 31, 2015, with questionnaires given every 5 to 7 years.
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Participants reported sunburns, sunbathing, and indoor tanning use during their childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The researchers obtained cancer diagnoses by linking participants’ data to the Cancer Registry of Norway.

Over the mean 16.5 years of follow-up, 597 women were diagnosed with SCC. The researchers found that the risk of SCC increased with increasing cumulative number of indoor tanning sessions, with an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 1.83 for highest use vs never use (95% CI, 1.38-2.42).

SCC risk was significantly higher for women who used indoor tanning compared with never users regardless of duration or age. Compared with never users, a significantly higher risk of SCC was found among women with 10 years or less of use (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.08-1.85), more than 10 years of use (HR, 1.43; 95% CI, 1.16-1.76), among women who started indoor tanning at 30 years of age or older (HR, 1.36; 95% CI, 1.11-1.67), and those who started younger than 30 years of age (HR, 1.51; 95% CI, 1.18-1.92).

However, the researchers did not find any significant associations between age at initiation and age at diagnosis.

The findings provide supporting evidence that there is a dose-response association between indoor tanning and SCC risk among women,” the researchers concluded. “The association between cumulative exposure to indoor tanning and SCC risk was the same regardless of duration of use and age at initiation.”

“These results support development of policies that regulate indoor tanning,” they added.


Lergenmuller S, Ghiasvand R, Robsahm TE, et al. Association of lifetime indoor tanning and subsequent risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma [Published online October 02, 2019]. JAMA Dermatol. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.2681

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