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People Still Covet a Tanned Look

Posted: May 28, 2010

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“Various reports touting the potential health benefits of sun exposure for vitamin D production are misleading people to believe that exposing oneself to UV radiation, which causes cancer, to prevent another disease is somehow beneficial,” said Draelos. “In fact, the Academy does not recommend getting vitamin D from any form of UV exposure because UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds can lead to the development of skin cancer. Getting vitamin D from a healthy diet, which includes naturally enriched vitamin D foods, fortified foods and beverages, and/or vitamin supplements, is a healthier alternative because it provides the exact same benefit without the skin cancer risk.”

Draelos added that, despite their positive attitudes about tanning, the majority of respondents expressed strong opinions on protecting themselves from skin cancer. For example, 75% of all respondents said they will do anything possible to prevent skin cancer. Furthermore, 80% of respondents expressed concern about skin cancer and feel it is important to protect themselves.

“When it comes to preventing skin cancer, actions speak louder than words,” said Draelos. “So while it is encouraging that most people are concerned about skin cancer and want to reduce their risk of developing it, clearly more work needs to be done to change attitudes on tanning. If a person likes the look of a tan, he or she should consider using a self-tanner but use sunscreen with it.”

May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month. Visit the AAD's Melanoma Monday Web site to take the Academy’s “Suntelligence” survey, as well as to find out how to perform a skin self-exam, download a body mole map or find free skin cancer screenings in your area.

The “Suntelligence” survey was conducted for the Academy by RH Research of Chicago from January 12–31, 2010. A total of 7,116 respondents completed the online survey; more than 200 completes were conducted in each of the 26 selected MSAs (metropolitan statistical area) and an additional 1,123 completes were conducted in the U.S. outside of the MSAs. The survey’s margin of error was ±1.2% for national data and ±6.9% for results stratified by MSA.