Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 19, Issue 7, pp 659–669 | Cite as

Exposure to sunlamps, tanning beds, and melanoma risk

  • Kerri M. Clough-GorrEmail author
  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
  • Ann E. Perry
  • Steven K. Spencer
  • Marc S. Ernstoff
Original Paper



To estimate the separate effects of sunlamp and tanning bed device use on melanoma risk.


Population-based case–control study of 423 cases of melanoma and 678 controls in the state of New Hampshire. Exposure data, including sunlamp and tanning bed use, were collected by telephone interview. Associations were evaluated using logistic regression analyses.


About 17% of participants ever used a sunlamp, and most use (89%) occurred before 1980. The OR was 1.39 (95% CI 1.00–1.96) for ever using a sunlamp, 1.23 (95% CI 0.81–1.88) for those starting sunlamp use <20 years, and 1.71 (95% CI 1.00–2.92) for those starting ≥20 years. Data suggested increasing risk with number of sunlamp uses and with duration of use (tests of trend p = 0.02). The overall prevalence of tanning bed use was 22% and most use (83%) occurred after 1980. The OR was 1.14 (95% CI 0.80–1.61) for ever using a tanning bed; there was no evidence that risk increased with frequency or duration of use. The OR was 1.96 (95% CI 1.06–3.61) for having used both devices.


Results suggest a modest association between sunlamp use and melanoma risk, and increasing risk with greater frequency and duration of use. No association with tanning bed use was found, but sufficient lag time may not have elapsed to assess a potential effect.


Melanoma Skin cancer Sunlamp Tanning bed Artificial UV 



We are grateful to Rebecca A. Silliman, Professor of Medicine and Public Health and Timothy L. Lash Associate Professor of Public Health and Medicine both at Boston University, for their informed advice and thoughtful critic of this study. We would like to thank the physicians in New Hampshire for their cooperation with this study and the men and women of New Hampshire, who generously gave their time to ensure the success of this project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kerri M. Clough-Gorr
    • 1
    Email author
  • Linda Titus-Ernstoff
    • 2
  • Ann E. Perry
    • 3
  • Steven K. Spencer
    • 4
  • Marc S. Ernstoff
    • 5
  1. 1.Geriatrics Section, Department of MedicineBoston University Medical CenterBostonUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Community & Family Medicine and of PediatricsDartmouth Medical School and the Norris Cotton Cancer CenterLebanonUSA
  3. 3.Department of PathologyDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterLebanonUSA
  4. 4.Department of DermatologyDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterLebanonUSA
  5. 5.Department of MedicineDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterLebanonUSA

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