Survey: Sun Tanning Prevails… Despite Skin Cancer Risks

Despite warnings from doctors and parents about skin cancer, many teenage girls continue to use tanning beds or sunbathe.

In a nationwide poll, the American Academy of Dermatology noted that a large percentage of young females will engage in unhealthy behavior in their quest for a tan.

Almost one-third of respondents had used a tanning bed in the past year. And of those females, 25 percent used the tanning beds once a week.

“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 to 29-years-old than in males of the same age group,” said dermatologist Ronald L. Moy, MD, FAAD, in a news release.

“Young women are being diagnosed with melanoma on their torso – a sign they used tanning beds, said Moy, president of the Academy. “In my practice, I have had patients – young women with a history of using tanning beds – who have died from melanoma.”

The survey, which polled roughly 3,800 females from ages 14 to 22, also found:

  • 81 percent either frequently sunbathed or occasionally had in the year before.
  • 87 percent of females using tanning beds said they believe they are more attractive with a tan.

If current rates of skin cancer continue, one in five Americans will develop the disease. About 75 percent of skin cancer deaths are from melanoma, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Using a tanning bed increases a person’s risk of melanoma by 75 percent.

Although most tanning salons offer spray tanning, which does not expose users to ultraviolet rays, 86 percent of girls in the survey said they did not have a spray tan during the past year.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology, “2011 Indoor Tanning: Teen and Young Adult Women” Survey.

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