Indoor Tanning May Yield Positive and Negative Effects

A woman indoor tanning
Investigators responded to a recent study and concluded that indoor tanning has an increased risk for malignant melanoma and a lower all-cause mortality risk.

A ban of indoor tanning may not be beneficial, particularly in a low ultraviolet (UV) radiation region, researchers reported in a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.1

In their previous cohort study, the investigators found that indoor tanning was associated with a 20% increased risk for malignant melanoma mortality (hazard ratio [HR] 1.2; 95% CI, 1.0-1.6), and a 23% lower all-cause mortality risk (HR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.7-0.8) during the study interval. Therefore, they concluded that indoor tanning may provide a survival advantage in some geographic regions.

Investigators were responding to a recent study by Eden et al,2 who concluded that banning of indoor tanning would save lives.

“We are well aware that the findings of a prospective observational study do not give causal results,” stated the researchers. “However, the dose-dependent relationship, plausible mechanisms, and supporting findings in experimental studies increase the likelihood of a causal relationship between active sun exposure habits and a decreased rate of all-cause mortality.”

Because overexposure is the primary UV risk factor for malignant melanoma, appropriate guidelines should help keep the risk low and optimize health, according to the researchers. “A ban of indoor tanning might increase health inequalities,” they stated.

There is no evidence that banning indoor tanning would save lives in Northern Europe, according to the investigators. However, there is evidence that banning indoor tanning would instead increase the mortality rate due other causes, such as hypertension, thromboembolism, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, they added.

“A multidisciplinary approach to optimize sun exposure for maximal health benefit, and minimize the risk of malignant melanoma will supposedly be a winning concept,” stated the study authors. “It should be possible to target guidelines against (episodic) overexposure of UV, indoor tanning abuse, to question the reliance on sun blockers, and still get UV exposure for optimal health.”


1. Lindqvist PG, Epstein E, Landin-Olsson M. On the potential beneficial effects of indoor tanning. Br J Dermatol. Published online August 16, 2022. doi:10.1111/bjd.21829

2. Eden M, Hainsworth R, Gordon LG, et al. Cost-effectiveness of a policy-based intervention to reduce melanoma and other skin cancers associated with indoor tanning. Br J Dermatol. 2022;187(1):105-114. doi:10.1111/bjd.21046