Study: Long-Term Tanners – Less Breast Cancer

A study out of Sweden suggests a powerful connection between tanning and a decreased incidence of breast cancer and other cancers in women. The research followed nearly 50,000 Swedish women for 15 years. The participants ranged in age from 30 to 49 when the program began back in 1991-1992. Approximately 2,000 of the ladies received a cancer diagnosis during the study, with the following types reported: brain, colon-rectal, lung, ovarian and breast cancer.

In an effort to examine potential associations between UV exposure and the increased or decreased risk of various cancers – including breast cancer – the researchers reviewed the history of UV exposure for all the women when they were ages 10 to 29. The breast cancer rate was nearly 50 percent less among those subjects who had spent more than a week a year during those years enjoying moderate UV exposure (even on an annual vacation). The tanned Swedes also showed 30 percent less risk of developing an internal cancer as compared to their non-tanning counterparts.

The researchers – from the University of Oxford in England, the University of Oslo in Norway, The Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States – concluded there was no support to establish a negative link between overall cancer risk and ongoing UV exposure experienced earlier in life. In fact, the women who received UV exposure through indoor tanning or the sun experienced significantly fewer cases of internal ailments such as breast cancer.

The study’s authors intimate that the decreased propensity for illness can be attributed to vitamin D associated with increased UV exposure through tanning equipment or sunlight.

Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention: Prospective study of UV exposure and cancer incidence among Swedish women

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