Kim Benz, a Texas artist and mother of two, remembers the angst she faced before undergoing surgery for skin cancer on her face.
"I was worried about scarring," she said, "I went through a little bit of depression, worried about if it was never going to heal nicely."
Benz -- who now uses makeup to hide her facial scars -- had been a regular indoor tanning bed user since the age of 17. She was first diagnosed with skin cancer -- normally seen in older adults -- in her early 20s.
After failed attempts to cure her tumors with medications, she underwent surgery -- twice -- to remove her skin cancers.
Benz, now 39, still has disfiguring skin cancer lesions over her entire body that she said garner stares and comments from others.
"I'm going to be fighting this for the rest of my life," she said.
A self-proclaimed former "tanaholic," Benz is not alone in her skin cancer experience. Indoor tanning increases the risk of two types of common skin cancers, especially among those exposed before the age of 25, a new review of previously published studies shows.
This international study, published Tuesday in the journal BMJ, combined the results of 12 studies on nearly 81,000 people.
By comparing the data linking indoor tanning and skin cancer, researchers estimated that the activity may account for more than 170,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancers -- basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas -- in the United States each year. In particular, exposure to indoor tanning before the age of 25 was linked to an increased risk for basal cell carcinoma, according to the study.
These findings show that "indoor tanning is dangerous, especially for young people," said study senior author, Dr. Eleni Linos, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at the University of California San Francisco.
Specifically, Linos and her colleagues found that those who reported ever using indoor tanning had a 67 percent higher risk for developing squamous cell carcinoma and a 29 percent higher risk for basal cell carcinoma.