Sun Tanning DOES Lead to Skin Cancer

In a new study, researchers have been able to show that “UV-induced melanin formation (tanning), traditionally thought to protect against skin cancer, is shown to be directly involved in melanoma formation in mammals.”

Using a unique UV light system, the researchers were able to cleanly separate UVA  (320–400 nm) from UVB (280–320 nm) rays. When they exposed the “experimental melanoma animal model” (lab mice) with these separated wavebands, they found…

  • Melanoma induction (tanning) by ultraviolet A requires the presence of melanin pigment and is associated with oxidative DNA damage within melanocytes.
  • In contrast, ultraviolet B radiation initiates melanoma in a pigment-independent manner (without tanning) associated with direct ultraviolet B DNA damage.

[box type=”important”]The researchers also found that tanning, as a melanoma-causing agent, works when skin is exposed only to UVA and not UVB radiation. This is important to tanners since melanoma formation has been linked to sunbed use. One possible reason for this link is that tanning lamps are capable of emitting UVA radiation up to 12 times, or higher, the UVA intensity of sunlight at high noon. 😦 [/box]


There is no such thing as a safe suntan. And while this doesn’t mean that all sun-tanners are doomed to a diagnosis of cutaneous malignant melanoma……it sure does increase their odds.