Media Releases

Indoor Tanning May Decrease Cancer Risk, New Study Suggests

Friday, January 25, 2013
« Return to Media Releases Mainpage

KELOWNA, BC— A new study suggests regular indoor tanning or recreational sun exposure may reduce the risk of malignant lymphoma, placing the cancer among a growing list of internal cancers that could potentially be inhibited by UV light exposure. The population-based case control study of 710 lymphoma patients matched with a control group, published this month in the International Journal of Cancer, was led by the German Cancer Research Center. The study showed that subjects who first used sunbeds more than 10 years ago, had a 40 to 60 per cent reduction in risk for lymphoma — results similar to subjects who took sunny vacations for more than 10 years. Earlier studies on lymphoma had produced mixed results, with some suggesting sunshine may increase lymphoma risk. But the new German study was larger, adjusted for confounding variables and more accurately tracked the nature of UV exposure experienced by the subjects. “According to our data, a strongly elevated risk for lymphoma by UV exposure appears rather unlikely,” the authors reported.

“In accordance with some recently published studies, our results point in contrast to a potentially protective effect of UV exposure to malignant lymphoma. Possible explanations for this effect lie in the stimulation of vitamin D production or in the modulation of T-cell immunology.” Vitamin D – produced naturally when skin is exposed to UVB in sunlight – has been linked to inhibiting or preventing 18 different types of cancer, according to the Vitamin D Council, with hundreds of new studies documenting the nature of this relationship. While an estimated 97 per cent of Canadians are vitamin D deficient in the winter, indoor tanning patrons have 90 per cent higher vitamin D levels as compared to non-tanners, according to clinical research. No research has shown that tanning in a non-burning fashion is a significant risk factor for any form of skin cancer. The Joint Canadian Tanning Association promotes responsible sun care habits. JCTA’s vision is that all Canadians learn to correctly embrace ultraviolet and sunshine as part of a healthy lifestyle – one which acknowledges that moderate ultraviolet light exposure when experienced in a non-burning fashion is the smartest way to maximize the potential benefits of UV light while minimizing the manageable potential risks associated with either too much or too little sunlight. “Public health messages about sunshine — whether attained outdoors or in a professional tanning facility — need to continue to take into account that the benefits of sunshine easily outweigh the manageable risks associated with overexposure,” said JCTA Executive Director Steve Gilroy. “Unfortunately, too many people only consider the risks of overexposure and forget completely about the benefits, because nobody sells or markets sunshine. This latest study is a reminder that we need to balance the message.” The German study authors do caution that further research is needed and that a larger study, with more control group subjects, could achieve greater statistical significance. Contact: Steve Gilroy, Executive Director, Joint Canadian Tanning Association 1-800-915-0367 or