Young adults hear  - but don’t heed - warnings about tanning

May 06, 2008, 4:00am

Chicago - Recently released research shows that suntanning and indoor tanning beds remain popular among young people despite the many public service messages about the associated cancer hazards, MedPageToday reports.

Chicago - Recently released research shows that suntanning and indoor tanning beds remain popular among young people despite the many public service messages about the associated cancer hazards, MedPageToday reports.

According to researchers at Northwestern University, more than 80 percent of beach-going Chicagoans 18 to 30 years old surveyed in 2007 say they think people look better with suntans - a figure up significantly from the 69 percent and 58 percent in surveys conducted in 1994 and 1988, respectively.

Also, the study found that though 87 of 100 respondents said they are aware of the link between skin cancer and tanning - compared with 38 percent in 1994 and 42 percent in 1988 - there has been a rise in the use of indoor tanning beds.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported using tanning beds in the past year, compared with 26 percent in 1994 and a mere 1 percent in 1988.

“Most teenagers and young adults self-report that their motivation for intentional tanning is to look better, relax, get a protective base tan, look better for a special event, feel healthy, and increase social activity with friends,” the study’s authors write.

They add, however, that the “potentially addictive nature of ultraviolet light tanning, especially with UV-A, may explain why educational knowledge-based prevention messages have been largely unsuccessful in altering attitudes and behavior to reduce ultraviolet light tanning.”

The authors suggest that dermatologists’ counseling of young adult patients to cease indoor tanning “represents an opportunity to prevent ultraviolet radiation exposure that may cause melanoma.”

The study appears in the April issue of Archives of Dermatology.