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Curr Opin Oncol. 2019 Mar;31(2):65-71. doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000507.

Sunbeds and melanoma risk: time to close the debate.

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Department of Dermatology, Hôpital Erasme, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Belgium.
Molecular and Pharmaco-Epidemiology Unit, Department of Experimental Oncology, European Institute of Oncology, IRCCS, Milan, Italy.



In spite of the established scientific evidence on the association of sunbed use with melanoma risk, some have recently expressed scepticism about the carcinogenicity of indoor tanning. This may have raised confusion among both physicians and patients. The purpose of this review is to make the point about the real impact of sunbed use on melanoma risk in light of the most recently published evidence.


Seven themes were covered: recent studies on age at first sunbed exposure and melanoma risk; sunbed use and melanoma at different body sites; sunbed use and development of additional primary melanomas; new studies on proportion of melanomas attributable to sunbed use; sunbed use and melanoma risk factors; economic burden of sunbed use; and recent debate over whether indoor tanning contributes to melanoma.


We were able to apply all epidemiological criteria for causality to the relationship between sunbed use and melanoma. Together with the new evidence on the strength, dose response, and temporality of the association of sunbeds with melanoma, this will hopefully close the debate over whether indoor tanning contributes to melanoma.

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