Occasional tanning bed use can increase a woman's risk of developing endometriosis, study finds

The dangers of tanning beds increasing the chances of melanoma and skin cancer are well documented, but now new research shows they may carry an unexpected further risk. 

According to a new study out of the University of Arizona, even infrequent use of tanning beds is linked to a greater risk of developing endometriosis - a painful condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in other places like the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

Researchers studied over 116,000 women from the years 1989 to 2015, and found that women who had used tanning beds six or more times a year between the ages of 25-35 had a 24 percent greater risk of an endometriosis diagnosis.

According to the findings published this week in the journal Human Reproduction, even those painful sunburns you got as a child may put you at risk: Women with a history of five or more sunburns as a teenagers had a 12 percent greater risk. 

But interestingly, the study found that women living in parts of the country with high levels of ultraviolet light throughout the year, such as southern parts of the US, were less likely to be diagnosed with the uterine disorder. 

Lead study author Dr Leslie Farland says while more research is needed, it shows there may be commonalities between melanoma and endometriosis, or an underlying association between sun exposure and the risk of endometriosis.

"This study reinforces the advice to avoid using tanning beds and suggests that there may be an additional benefit of reducing the risk of endometriosis," Dr Farland said in a statement.

However, researchers cautioned that the mechanisms between exposure to the sun and tanning beds and risk of endometriosis are not yet entirely clear.