TUESDAY, Feb. 28, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Skin cancers linked to indoor tanning are estimated to have cost the U.S. health care system hundreds of millions of dollars in 2015, a new study says.
"Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. and its incidence is increasing, due in part to the increase in the use of tanning devices," said study author Hugh Waters. He's a health economist and associate professor at the University of North Carolina.
"We know these devices have significant health and financial impacts, and with this study we wanted to establish these impacts clearly to support efforts to reduce their use, especially among younger people," Waters added.
Researchers estimate there were 263,000 U.S. cases of tanning device-related skin cancers in 2015. The total medical costs for those cases reached an estimated $343 million.
Also, the researchers said those skin cancers will lead to a total economic loss of $127 billion over the lifetime of those patients.
Waters noted that the study "calculations are all conservative, so this is the lower end of the estimate -- the impact could be even higher than this."
The researchers called for effective policies and strategies to reduce the use of tanning devices and their significant health and financial effects.
The study findings were published Feb. 28 in the Journal of Cancer Policy.
Despite the known dangers, Americans' use of indoor tanning rose over the last 20 years. About 30 million people now use the devices at least once a year. There are approximately 25,000 tanning salons nationwide, the researchers said.
"Tanning devices cause hundreds of thousands of people to suffer a number of different diseases, costing billions of dollars and, most importantly, people's lives," Waters said in a journal news release.
"We hope that our results will help in the efforts toward reducing the use of tanning devices," he added.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the dangers of indoor tanning.