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Cancer Causes Control. 2008 Sep;19(7):659-69. doi: 10.1007/s10552-008-9129-6. Epub 2008 Feb 14.

Exposure to sunlamps, tanning beds, and melanoma risk.

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Geriatrics Section, Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Center, 88 East Newton Street, Robinson 2, Boston, MA, 02118, USA.



To estimate the separate effects of sunlamp and tanning bed device use on melanoma risk.


Population-based case-control study of 423 cases of melanoma and 678 controls in the state of New Hampshire. Exposure data, including sunlamp and tanning bed use, were collected by telephone interview. Associations were evaluated using logistic regression analyses.


About 17% of participants ever used a sunlamp, and most use (89%) occurred before 1980. The OR was 1.39 (95% CI 1.00-1.96) for ever using a sunlamp, 1.23 (95% CI 0.81-1.88) for those starting sunlamp use <20 years, and 1.71 (95% CI 1.00-2.92) for those starting >/=20 years. Data suggested increasing risk with number of sunlamp uses and with duration of use (tests of trend p = 0.02). The overall prevalence of tanning bed use was 22% and most use (83%) occurred after 1980. The OR was 1.14 (95% CI 0.80-1.61) for ever using a tanning bed; there was no evidence that risk increased with frequency or duration of use. The OR was 1.96 (95% CI 1.06-3.61) for having used both devices.


Results suggest a modest association between sunlamp use and melanoma risk, and increasing risk with greater frequency and duration of use. No association with tanning bed use was found, but sufficient lag time may not have elapsed to assess a potential effect.

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