Study Finds Prevalence of Indoor Tanning Common in US, Europe, and Australia

January 30, 2014

Exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young people, which is a public health issue because of the association between tanning and skin cancer, according to a study by Mackenzie R. Wehner, M.Phil, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, which was published online at JAMA Dermatology.

Researchers searched electronic databases and analyzed 88 records that reported the prevalence of indoor tanning. They summarized results for different age categories, and calculated the risk of indoor tanning for nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) and melanoma in the United States, Europe and Australia. Their results included data from 406, 696 participants.

According to the study findings, 35.7 percent of adults were exposed to indoor tanning in their lifetime, as were 55 percent of university students, and 19.3 percent of adolescents. In the year prior to being surveyed, 14 percent of adults, 43.1 percent of university students, and 18.3 percent of adolescents were exposed. The study results showed that the population proportional attributable risk were 3.0% to 21.8% for NMSC and 2.6% to 9.4% for melanoma, corresponding to more than 450,000 NMSC cases and more than 10,000 melanoma cases each year attributable to indoor tanning in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

“Our findings suggest that exposure to indoor tanning is common in Western countries, especially among young persons,” the authors conclude. “Indoor tanning is a major public health problem. … It is time to open the debate about and pursue additional research into appropriate and effective policy and prevention strategies with the potential to significantly reduce skin cancer risks.”

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