Indoor tanning increases the risks of developing non-melanoma skin cancer (known as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma), particularly among those exposed before the age of 25, finds a study published on today.

It follows a BMJ study published in July that showed 3,438 (5.4%) new cases of melanoma diagnosed each year in Western Europe are related to sunbed use, particularly among young adults.

Some experts are now calling for Europe to follow the example of the United States by introducing a "tan tax" on indoor tanning salons.

The researchers, led by Professor Eleni Linos at the University of California San Francisco, estimate that indoor tanning may account for over 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer in the US alone.

Cases of non-melanoma skin cancer have increased dramatically over the last few decades. Although not as lethal as melanoma, they affect a vast number of people worldwide and are a substantial financial burden to healthcare systems. Several studies have examined the link between non-melanoma skin cancer and indoor tanning, but have yielded varied results.

So Professor Linos and her team set out to review the evidence. They analysed the results of 12 studies involving 9,328 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (7,645 basal cell carcinomas and 1,683 squamous cell carcinomas).