What do we know about adults who indoor tan in private homes?

September 22, 2016

A small percentage of individuals who indoor tan, a pastime associated with skin cancer, do so in private homes. Why do they do it? A research letter published online by JAMA Dermatology attempts to answer that question.

Sherry L. Pagoto, Ph.D., of the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine, Worcester, and her coauthors analyzed data for a group of adults tanners.

The authors examined demographics of the two groups, as well as symptoms of tanning addiction as measured by scores on a tanning behavior assessment tool. Endorsing two or more items on the was considered positive for tanning addiction.

The author report:

  • Of 636 adults who had ever tanned indoors, 170 (26.7 percent) reported tanning at least once in a private .
  • Among 519 adults who had used a tanning bed in the last year, 44 primarily tanned in a home (theirs or someone else's) and the other 475 primarily tanned elsewhere.
  • Of the 44 recent tanners who primarily tanned at a home, 48 percent said they tanned at their home, 46 percent tanned at the home of a friend or relative and 7 percent tanned in their apartment complex.
  • The most common reasons for tanning at home were not having to wait and tanning for free.
  • Individuals who tanned at home reported more indoor tanning sessions in the last year than those who tanned elsewhere.
  • Those who tanned at a home were more likely to exceed the cutoff score of two on the behavioral screening assessment for tanning addiction.
  • Some individuals whose families owned a tanning bed reported letting nonfamily members use it and receiving money from others to tan with the device.

"Less-expensive tanning was a commonly cited reason to tan in the home. Therefore, strategies that increase the cost of using these devices may reduce tanning in homes. Home tanners appear to be a small but high-risk group who should be targeted in intervention efforts to prevent ," the research letter concludes.

Explore further: Ban on indoor tanning by minors not working: study

More information: Vinayak K. Nahar et al. Characteristics and Practices of Adults Who Use Tanning Beds in Private Residences, JAMA Dermatology (2016). DOI: 10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.3111

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