Indoor tanning puts gay, bisexual men at greater skin cancer risk

Gay and bisexual men who prefer indoor tanning may be at a higher risk of skin cancer.

New York: Gay and bisexual men are up to six times more likely than heterosexual men to report indoor tanning and twice as likely to report a history of skin cancer, says a new study.

Conversely, gay and bisexual women were half as likely as heterosexual women to report both indoor tanning and non-melanoma skin cancer, according to the study led by Sarah Arron, associate professor of dermatology at the University of California-San Francisco.

“One likely cause of more skin cancer among gay and bisexual men is greater exposure to ultraviolet radiation caused by indoor tanning," Arron said.

The team analyzed data of 192,575 adult men and women - 66,677 in California and 125,898 from a national survey.

“Many people, especially younger people, associate tanning with health and attractiveness, and unfortunately, that myth has serious consequences,” Arron noted.

While data on outdoor tanning was unavailable, the authors cited previous studies showing that indoor tanners are also more likely to engage in outdoor tanning.

“This finding will help increase awareness among health care providers that gay and bisexual men constitute a high-risk population for skin cancer,” Arron pointed out.

Recent research suggests that, fortunately, screening can increase early detection and decrease mortality from this disease.

The study is the first to compare skin cancer rates between heterosexual men and gay and bisexual men, and the first to assess skin cancer rates and indoor tanning behaviour by sexual orientation in women, the authors concluded in a paper published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

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