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Despite repeated warnings from dermatologists on the health dangers of tanning, results of a new survey by the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) confirmed that a large percentage of Caucasian teen girls and young women admitted using tanning beds or intentionally tanning outdoors in the past year.
Thirty-two percent of respondents had used a tanning bed in the past year, and of those respondents, one-fourth (25%) used a tanning bed at least weekly, on average. An overwhelming majority (81%) of all respondents reported that they had tanned outdoors either frequently or occasionally in the past year.
“Our survey underscores the importance of educating young women about the very real risks of tanning, as melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – is increasing faster in females 15-29 years old than in males of the same age group,” says dermatologist Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, president of the Academy. “In fact, most young women with melanoma are developing it on their torso, which may be the result of high-risk tanning behaviors such as indoor tanning. In my practice, I have had patients – young women with a history using tanning beds – who have died from melanoma.”
Despite claims by the tanning industry to the contrary, indoor tanning is so dangerous that the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer panel have declared ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun and artificial light sources – such as tanning beds and sun lamps – as a known carcinogen. Studies show indoor tanning increases a person’s risk of melanoma by 75%.
When survey results were analyzed by age, significant differences were noted by respondents who reported using indoor tanning. Specifically, 18-22 year olds were almost twice as likely to have indoor tanned (40%) when compared to 14-17 year olds (22%).