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Education on Tanning Risks Help Women Choose Healthier Alternatives

Posted: October 23, 2008

Giving young women educational materials about the risks of indoor tanning helps them find healthier alternatives for changing appearances, a study says.

Six months after 430 college-age women received a booklet focused on the damaging effects of tanning and ultraviolet radiation, specifically related to indoor tanning, on the skin's appearance, about 35% of the women reduced their time in tanning booths from the previous year. Similar changes in attitude toward future intentions to tan were also noted. However, the researchers found the participants' perceptions of susceptibility to skin damage or skin cancer from indoor tanning did not change.

The booklet also emphasized tanning abstinence and recommended other appearance improving alternatives, such as exercise, sunless tanning products and choosing fashions that do not require a complimentary tan.

The study, conducted by a team from the School of Public Health at East Tennessee State University, was expected to be published in the Dec. 1 issue of Cancer. The authors concluded that their effort "supports the use of intervention messages to change young people's ultraviolet risky behaviors and ultimately reduce skin cancer morbidity and mortality."

More than 1.3 million skin cancer diagnoses, resulting in more than 10,000 deaths, are made annually in the United States. The American Academy of Dermatology has more about skin cancer.