Importance: Indoor tanning is a known carcinogen, but the scope of exposure to this hazard is not known.
Objective: To summarize the international prevalence of exposure to indoor tanning.
Data sources: Studies were identified through systematic searches of PubMed (1966 to present), Scopus (1823 to present), and Web of Science (1898 to present) databases, last performed on March 16, 2013. We also hand searched reference lists to identify records missed by database searches and publicly available data not yet published in the scientific literature.
Study selection: Records reporting a prevalence of indoor tanning were eligible for inclusion. We excluded case-control studies, reports with insufficient study information, and reports of groups recruited using factors related to indoor tanning. Two independent investigators performed searches and study selection. Our search yielded 1976 unique records. After exclusions, 161 records were assessed for eligibility in full text, and 88 were included.
Data extraction and synthesis: Two independent investigators extracted data on characteristics of study participants, inclusion/exclusion criteria, data collection format, outcomes, and statistical methods. Random-effects meta-analyses were used to summarize the prevalence of indoor tanning in different age categories. We calculated the population proportional attributable risk of indoor tanning in the United States, Europe, and Australia for nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma.
Main outcomes and measures: Ever and past-year exposure to indoor tanning.
Results: The summary prevalence of ever exposure was 35.7% (95% CI, 27.5%-44.0%) for adults, 55.0% (33.0%-77.1%) for university students, and 19.3% (14.7%-24.0%) for adolescents. The summary prevalence of past-year exposure was 14.0% (95% CI, 11.5%-16.5%) for adults, 43.1% (21.7%-64.5%) for university students, and 18.3% (12.6%-24.0%) for adolescents. These results included data from 406 696 participants. The population proportional attributable risk were 3.0% to 21.8% for NMSC and 2.6% to 9.4% for melanoma, corresponding to more than 450 000 NMSC cases and more than 10 000 melanoma cases each year attributable to indoor tanning in the United States, Europe, and Australia.
Conclusions and relevance: Exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young persons. Given the large number of skin cancer cases attributable to indoor tanning, these findings highlight a major public health issue.