If individuals were limited to indoor tanning based on age, the number of melanoma cases, costs of treatment and deaths from the disease could decrease.
This information is supported by results from an economic analysis about this subject were published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The study’s author, Gery P. Guy, Ph.D., MPH, health economist in the CDC Division of Cancer Prevention and Control’s Epidemiology and Applied Research Branch Minors, supports this information as well.
“An age restriction on indoor tanning could be a significant step forward in the fight against skin cancer," said Guy. “By restricting the use of indoor tanning devices among minors, we could potentially save thousands of lives.”
Individuals under the age of 18 were restricted from indoor tanning after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed an age limit in December 2015.
Estimating the Benefits
Guy and his colleagues tested five scenarios to estimate:
- The expected number of melanoma cases and deaths avoided
- Life-years recovered
- Melanoma treatment costs saved
The team looked at restricting indoor tanning for minors under age 18 in addition to reducing the prevalence by 20%, 50%, 80% and 100%.
If indoor tanning was limited to 18 or older, the model estimated 61,839 melanoma cases would be averted, which is a 4.9% reduction. Additionally, over the lifetime of the 61.2 million youth aged 14 or younger in the United States, 6,735 melanoma deaths—which is a 4.7% reduction—would be deterred.
Implementing this age restriction results in over $342 million of savings in melanoma treatment.
“We estimate that an age restriction younger than 18 years reduced the prevalence of ever indoor tanning by 29%,” explained the researchers. “Thus, the 20% reduction scenario represents the benefits if the age restriction were less effective in reducing indoor tanning, whereas the 50%, 80%, and 100% reduction scenarios represent estimates if the age restrictions were more effective in preventing individuals from ever indoor tanning.”
A Decrease in Numbers
The study’s outcome showed as indoor tanning decreases, health benefits and cost-savings increase. If at least 20% of individuals stopped indoor tanning, 40,410 melanoma cases would be avoided. However, if a 100% reduction was achieved, 202,662 cases would be avoided and 16.2% melanoma deaths would be achieved.
Over the lifetime of the 61.2 million minors ages 14 or younger in the United States, decreasing 20% to 100% in indoor tanning could outcome in melanoma treatment cost-savings from $219 million to $1.1 billion.
“Estimates from this study indicate that reducing indoor tanning would be effective in preventing a substantial number of melanoma cases and deaths and result in melanoma treatment cost-savings,” explained the researchers. “Because the benefits increase as the prevalence of indoor tanning decreases, further efforts to reduce indoor tanning might be effective in reducing the burden of melanoma in the United States.”