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Research Shows Melanoma Influence Factors, Treatment Possibilities

Posted: August 6, 2008

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Despite its link to both melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, indoor tanning is big business. In fact, published reports indicate that the indoor tanning industry has an estimated revenue of $5 billion, a fivefold increase from 1992. The prevalence of indoor tanning among older U.S. teen girls is as high as 40%.

A multi-component project to identify the factors that influence the likelihood of indoor tanning, known as CITY 100 (Correlates of Indoor Tanning in Youth), examined the environmental, policy and individual level variables that may be related to teens' use of indoor tanning in 100 of the most populous U.S. cities. The primary component used to gather data consisted of a phone survey of 6,125 teen/parent pairs, with the teen sample ranging in age from 14 to 17. It was noted that 52% of the teen sample was female, 69% was classified as non-Hispanic white, and approximately 10.4% had used indoor tanning in the past year.

Other facets of the study included analyzing the presence and stringency of state indoor tanning legislation; evaluating local enforcement of state laws; assessing the density (per population) of tanning facilities in each city (i.e., availability); and assessing the practices of tanning facilities related to youth access, including parental consent, banning teens based on age, and the frequency teens were allowed to tan their first week.

The study found that only 28 states had any type of indoor tanning law, with 21 of these states having a youth access law. Even the majority of states with tanning laws that were reviewed did not perform annual inspections, and 70% of the facilities said they would allow a fair-skinned, 15-year-old girl who had never used an indoor tanning facility to tan every day the first week of tanning.

"Access to indoor tanning was found to be a significant contributing factor in teens use of these facilities," said Weinstock. "The study found that having a higher density of facilities in one's city and having at least one facility within two miles of one's home were each significantly related to indoor tanning. In fact, the lead investigator pointed out that the mean number of tanning facilities per city exceeded the number of Starbucks locations, and 89% of the teens in the sample lived within three miles of a tanning facility."