Indoor tanning increases the risk for developing basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma, particularly among those who used tanning beds before they turned 25, according to new research in the British Medical Journal.

The new study augments a BMJ study published in July 2012 that showed that 3,438 new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year in Western Europe are related to sunbed use.

As a result, some experts are now calling for Europe to introduce a “tan tax” on indoor tanning salons.

In the new study, researchers led by  Eleni Linos, MD,  of the University of California San Francisco, estimated that indoor tanning may account for more than 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers in the US alone. They analysed the results of 12 studies involving 9,328 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Ever using indoor tanning was associated with a 67% higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29% higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma, compared with never using it, the study showed.  

Given the extent of indoor tanning use in the United States, the researchers estimated that such tanning accounts for 3.7% of cases of basal cell carcinoma and 8.2% of cases of squalors cell carcinoma.

 “The EU needs to follow the example of the United States by introducing a so-called tan tax on indoor tanning services,” says Simon Williams, PhD, from Northwestern University in Chicago, in a personal view article accompanying the new study.