Many teens and young adults who tan indoors do so despite knowing the health risks of the practice, according to a new survey.
In addition, 87 percent of indoor tanners said they think a tan makes people look more attractive, compared with 66 percent of people who don’t use indoor tanning beds.
"It's absurd that many people who indoor tan are doing it for cosmetic reasons because that tan can actually accelerate the aging process and can lead to melanoma — the deadliest form of skin cancer," said dermatologist Dr. Ronald Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology, the organization that conducted the survey. "Teens often report feeling a sense of invincibility, which explains why their actions often do not mirror their knowledge of certain behaviors — like tanning."
Alarmingly, nearly one-half of respondents who have indoor tanned in the past year (48 percent) knew someone who has or has had skin cancer.
"Our survey confirms that teens are more concerned with their current looks than their future health, even though they realize that skin cancer is a risk factor of their behavior," Moy said. "If this behavior trend continues and young women’s attitudes toward tanning do not change, future generations will develop more skin cancers earlier in life and the consequences can be fatal."
Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing about 8,700 people in the United States each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. While overall cancer death rates declined by 19 percent in men and 11 percent in women between 1991 and 2005, the death rate for melanoma increased by 5 percent. [See Why Skin Cancer Is on the Rise].
The survey involved more than 3,800 non-Hispanic white teens and young adults nationwide.
Pass it on: The majority of female teens and young adults who use tanning beds do so even though they know the beds increase the risk of skin cancer.
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