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Indoor tanning tied to common skin cancer: Report

a woman lies in a tanning booth
AP Photo/Al Grillo

(CBS) Indoor tanning increases a young person's risk for the most common type of skin cancer, according to a new study.

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An estimated 30 million Americans flock to indoor tanning beds each year. Previous research has shown regular use of tanning beds triples the risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, CBS News reported.

For the new study, Yale researchers wanted to find out if tanning increased the risk for basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common type of skin cancer that strikes an estimated 2.8 million Americans each year.

Researchers interviewed 750 people under the age of 40, some of whom had BCC. They found young people who said they tanned indoors were 69 percent more likely to have early-onset BCC. The researchers said that could lead to worse skin problems later in life.

"We were also surprised to find that one-third of our study participants with BCC had already had at least one additional BCC before age 40, which is very alarming as skin cancers increase in frequency with age," study author Dr. Susan T. Mayne, professor at the Yale School of Public Health, said in a written statement. The effect was even greater for women.

The findings are published in the Dec. issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The authors are calling for more regulations on indoor tanning, similar to California's teen tanning ban.

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"In conjunction with the findings on melanoma, our results for BCC indicate that reducing indoor tanning could translate to a meaningful reduction in the incidence of these two types of skin cancer," study co-author Leah M. Ferrucci, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Public Health, said in the statement.

BCCs are not usually fatal, but can be very disfiguring if they continue to grow, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In rare cases, a BCC can spread to other parts of the body, becoming deadly. Treatment includes outpatient procedures, including freezing or surgically removing the cancerous area.

WebMD has more on basal cell carcinoma.