Many Young Women Continue to Tan

Posted on May 6th, 2011 by

According to a survey by the American Academy of Dermatology, use of tanning beds remains a common practice among young, white women. Intentional outdoor tanning was also widely reported.

Sun exposure has long been linked with skin cancer, and a growing body of evidence indicates that tanning beds also increase risk. Exposure to sunlamps or sunbeds has been classified as “known to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.[1] Avoidance of tanning beds is recommended by the American Academy of Dermatology,[2] the World Health Organization,[3] and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[4]

To explore current tanning behaviors, the American Academy of Dermatology conducted a survey of more than 3,800 white, non-Hispanic females between the ages of 14 and 22 years.[5] The results indicated that intentional tanning remains common in this population:

  • 32% had used a tanning bed in the past year. Of these, one-fourth used a tanning bed at least weekly.
  • 81% reported that they had tanned outdoors frequently or occasionally in the past year.
  • Spray tans (considered a safe alternative to UV tanning) were not commonly used.

In a prepared statement, the president of the American Academy of Dermatology noted “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. 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.”

To reduce your risk of skin cancer, protect your skin from the sun and avoid tanning beds.


[1] Report on Carcinogens, Eleventh Edition; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Toxicology Program.

[2] Be Sun Smart.™ American Academy of Dermatology website.(Accessed May 4, 2011).

[3] Global disease burden from solar ultraviolet radiation. World Health Organization website. (Accessed May 4, 2011).

[4] Sun Safety Action Steps. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. (Accessed May 4, 2011).

[5] New survey finds teen girls and young women need lesson on dangers of indoor tanning. American Academy of Dermatology website. May 2, 2011.

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Tags: General Skin Cancer, Health and Wellness, Melanoma, Screening/Prevention Melanoma, Skin Cancer

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