Most indoor tanning-related injuries come from skin burns, according to a study published on Dec. 15 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) collected data from tanning bed injuries that sent people to emergency departments from 2003 to 2012. The study noted that more than 3,200 people go to the emergency room each year due to injuries sustained from tanning.
The study looked at a sample of 405 patients, 328 of which were women. Two hundred forty-eight of the injuries occurred on public property or in a public place. Skin burns produced 319 injuries, followed by syncope/passing out injuries (37), laceration/muscle/bone injuries (28), eye injuries (22) and other injuries (14).
"Indoor tanning exposes users to intense UV radiation, which is a known carcinogen," the authors of the study wrote. "However, little is known about the more immediate adverse outcomes of indoor tanning. To our knowledge, this study provides the first national estimates of indoor tanning-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments."
In addition to these injuries, the CDC says that the use of tanning beds cause as many as 170,000 cases of skin cancer each year. The Food and Drug Administration now requires that all tanning beds have a sign posted on them listing the risks of using them.
John Overstreet, executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, McLean, VA, wrote in an email to Club Industry that he takes issue with one the report's statement that indoor tanning is associated with a substantial number of injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms.
"I think the opposite is true," Overstreet wrote. "I think the story is how few injuries actually occur and how much progress the industry has made in making a low number of injuries even lower."
Overstreet noted that during the period of this study, an average of one million Americans suntanned indoors each day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. That would translate to 365,000,000 tanning sessions annually, Overstreet says.
"Taking the year 2003 where the study says the greatest number of injuries were reported (6,487), and comparing that to the annual sessions, that translates to an injury incidence rate of .00001777 or less than 1/100 of 1 percent," he says. "That is a safety record all industries should strive to achieve."
The number of reported injuries dropped from 6,487 in 2003 to 1,957 in 2012, a 69 percent decrease.
"Clearly during that 10-year period, the industry made significant progress in making sure customers do not suffer injury," Overstreet says.
Club Industry Director of Content and Engagement Pamela Kufahl contributed to this report.