NEW YORK — In many U.S. cities, tanning salons appear to cluster in neighborhoods where more gay and bisexual men live, according to a study that suggests this might be one reason for higher skin cancer rates among sexual minority men, Reuters reports.
Researchers examined data on the number of households with partnered male couples across 4,091 census tracts in 10 U.S. major cities and the distribution of tanning salons across those cities. The odds of living near a tanning salon were twice as high in areas where at least 10 percent of households were male couples than in neighborhoods with fewer gay households, Reuters reports.
“This matters because gay men already experience many health disparities and also have higher rates of skin cancer,” said Dr. Eleni Linos, senior author of the study and a professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Stanford University in California. “Tanning beds are a known carcinogen, so having this carcinogen more available in these neighborhoods is a problem,” Linos told Reuters by email.
Skin cancer is becoming increasingly common in the U.S., and indoor tanning causes more than 450,000 basal and squamous cell cancers and more than 10,000 melanomas each year, Linos and colleagues write in JAMA Network Open.
Compared to straight men, sexual minority men who identify as gay and bisexual have a six-fold higher prevalence of tanning salon use and more than double the skin cancer risk, researchers note.