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19-05-2011 | Article

Indoor tanning runs in the family

Abstract

Academy website

MedWire News: Young girls are more likely to use indoor tanning beds if their mothers are indoor tanners, an American Academy of Dermatology survey shows.

The responses, from more than 3800 White, non-Hispanic women aged 14 to 22 years, indicated that girls who used indoor tanning beds were more than twice as likely to have a family member who also used a tanning bed than girls who did not use indoor tanning beds, at 65% compared with 28%, respectively.

The researchers who carried out the survey also found that girls who used indoor tanning beds were four times as likely to have mothers who also used tanning beds as girls who did not use tanning beds, at 42% versus 10%, respectively.

"Mothers who tan indoors are not only putting themselves at risk for skin cancer, but they also may be putting their daughters at risk," said Ellen Marmur, associated professor of dermatology at The Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, USA.

"The survey shows how influential mothers can be on their daughters' behavior, and that is why it's critical for mothers to set a good example by not tanning."

Indeed, the vast majority (94%) of girls who were using tanning beds said that their families knew they were using them.

One factor contributing to the use of tanning beds among the young women was peer pressure, with girls who used tanning beds in the past year nearly twice as likely to indicate feeling peer pressure to be tanned as girls not using tanning beds, at 49% versus 28%.

"Tanning is a dangerous, unhealthy behavior, similar in seriousness to smoking or drinking alcohol, where teens often succumb to peer pressure," commented Marmur.

"Yet, it is troubling that so many parents are aware of their teens' use of tanning beds and allow this harmful behavior to continue or even set a bad example themselves by indoor tanning."

She urges parents "to educate their teens about the dangers of ultraviolet exposure from tanning beds and to discourage or prohibit this activity for all family members."

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper