An Estimated 2,000 ER Visits Due to Indoor Tanning in 2012

Women, whites account for majority of emergency department patients

TUESDAY, Dec. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The first national estimates of indoor tanning-related injuries treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments have been calculated, according to the authors of a research letter published online Dec. 15 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Gery Guy Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues collected data on indoor-tanning-related injuries from 2003 to 2012 from 66 U.S. hospital emergency departments. The authors identified 405 such injuries. Based on this finding, Guy's team estimated that an average of 3,234 indoor-tanning-related injuries were treated annually across the country. They also found that the number treated each year dropped from 6,487 in 2003 to 1,957 in 2012, probably because fewer people are using tanning salons.

Four out of five tanning-salon injuries were skin burns, while fainting and eye injuries accounted for fewer than 10 percent of reported injuries. Injured tanners were mostly women and white (about 80 percent in each case). Young adults 18 to 24 years old represented more than one-third of the injured list. Burns severe enough to require emergency treatment indicate overexposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation and increase skin cancer risk, the study authors said.

John Overstreet, the executive director of the Indoor Tanning Association, an industry group, disagreed with the authors' interpretation of the findings. "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," he told HealthDay. "Clearly during the 10 years covered by the study, the industry made significant progress in making sure customers do not suffer injury. That is a safety record all industries should strive to achieve."

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