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Doctors say they would refuse aggressive end-of-life care

Many doctors in California would refuse aggressive end-of-life care for themselves, but are likely to pursue intensive care for their terminally ill patients, a new study found.

Researchers at Stanford University surveyed nearly 1,081 doctors in California in 2013 about their end-of-life care preferences, and compared the responses with 790 Arkansas doctors who completed the same 14-question survey in 1989. Eighty-eight percent of the California doctors surveyed would choose “no-code” or do-not-resuscitate orders for themselves, the study found.

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The rate was similar among the Arkansas doctors surveyed more than two decades before.

However, a majority of all the doctors surveyed said they tend to order aggressive life-extending treatment for terminally ill patients.

The doctors may be more likely to say they’d choose less aggressive end-of-life care options for themselves because they may have witnessed the suffering terminally ill patients experience when they undergo high-intensity treatments that prolong life for only a short time, the researchers wrote.

BOTTOM LINE: Many doctors in California would refuse aggressive end-of-life care for themselves, but are likely to pursue intensive care for their terminally ill patients.

CAUTIONS: The study relied on self-reports from a limited number of doctors so the findings may not accurately signify what form of end-of-life care doctors would pursue.

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WHERE TO FIND IT: PLOS ONE, May 28

Indoor tanning
may increase risk
of melanoma

Indoor tanning may increase the risk of melanoma in some people even if they haven’t experienced burns from either indoor or outdoor tanning, according to a new study by researchers at University of Minnesota.

The researchers surveyed 1,167 melanoma patients and 1,101 people without skin cancer about their tanning and sunscreen habits and their family history of skin cancer. Nearly 57 percent of all the participants said they had five or more sunburns in their life, and about 5 percent said they had never been sunburned.

The researcher set to test the hypothesis that controlled indoor tanning without burning can prevent skin cancer and found the opposite was true. The melanoma patients who reported never having been sunburned were almost four times more likely to go indoor tanning compared with those who did not have skin cancer. Melanoma patients who said they never had a sunburn were more likely to start indoor tanning at younger ages and continue over more years than patients who reported having been sunburned.

BOTTOM LINE: Indoor tanning may increase the risk of melanoma in some people even if they haven’t experienced burns from either indoor or outdoor tanning.

CAUTIONS: The study does not prove indoor tanning caused the patients’ melanoma.

WHERE TO FIND IT: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, May 29

Lara Salahi can be reached at lara.salahi@globe.com. Follow Lara on Twitter: @BostonLara.

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