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24-05-2012 | Article

Indoor tanning still popular in young women


CDC website

MedWire News: The use of indoor tanning equipment remains popular among young adult women, despite warnings about the increased risk for skin cancer, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows.

"We must accelerate our efforts to educate young adults about the dangers of indoor tanning to prevent melanoma as this generation ages," said co-author of the study Dr Marcus Plescia, from the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in a press statement.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the USA, and rates of the disease are increasing. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and from indoor tanning equipment is the most important preventable risk factor for the disease. However, UV radiation levels from indoor tanning devices are significantly higher than those in sunlight.

Indoor tanning is particularly dangerous for younger users as previous research has shown that the use of such equipment among people younger than 35 years is associated with significantly higher risk for melanoma - the most deadly form of the disease - compared with use among older people.

To investigate indoor tanning rates among adults, researchers from the CDC and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) analyzed data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey.

They found that 5.6% of adults reported indoor tanning in the past 12 months, with the highest rates among White women aged 18-21 years (31.8%) and 22-25 years (29.6%).

White women also reported the highest frequency of indoor tanning, at an average of 20.3 sessions per year, and frequency of use was even higher among White women aged 18-21 years, at an average of 27.6 sessions per year.

"Efforts to shape public policies awareness regarding indoor tanning generally have been targeted toward adolescents rather than young adults to help change the behavior of minors," said lead researcher Dr Anne Hartman, from the NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences in Rockville, Maryland, USA.

"This study suggests that as adolescents mature into young adults, they may continue to need environmental support to develop and maintain healthy behaviors and to change their perspectives about tanning."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen