Study shows risk of skin cancer doesn't deter most college students who tan indoors

January 10, 2017, Indiana University
Credit: Indiana University

White female college students in Indiana who tan indoors know they are placing themselves at risk of skin cancer and premature skin aging, but most continue to tan indoors anyway, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

The self-administered questionnaire survey of 629 female undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 18 and 30 at Indiana University's campuses in Bloomington and Indianapolis was conducted in 2016. The survey gathered information about habits and attitudes toward tanning.

Keming Yang, a Ph.D. student in epidemiology, published the survey's findings in an article in the Journal of Dermatological Science. Yang is the first author of the paper; Jiali Han, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology, is the senior author.

Indoor tanning exposes users to ultraviolet radiation, a well-known risk factor for premature skin aging and skin cancers, and is particularly dangerous for younger and more frequent indoor tanners. Nonetheless, indoor tanning is quite prevalent in the United States, with one study finding the prevalence of indoor tanning to be highest in the Midwest, according to the paper's authors.

One statistical analysis of several separate but similar studies showed those who had ever used tanning beds had a 25 percent higher risk of melanoma, and those who first used tanning beds before the age of 35 had an 87 percent higher risk of melanoma, compared to those who had never used .

The survey asked students to agree, disagree or say they had no opinion to a number of statements. According to the survey, of those who tan indoors currently or did so in the past:

  • 99.4 percent agreed that tanning can cause skin problems such as premature aging and .
  • 78.7 percent disagreed that indoor tanning is safe or at least safer than outdoor tanning.
  • 69.1 percent agreed they still like to get a tan even though they know tanning may be bad for their .
  • 83.6 percent agreed that a tan makes them feel more attractive.
  • 83 percent agreed that compared to how they feel before tanning, they feel more relaxed and pleasant during tanning.

The researchers said they found those more likely to use indoor tanning were women who had families or friends who used tanning devices, tanned easily, viewed a tan as attractive, believe tanning can stimulate healthy vitamin D production and still seek to get a tan despite knowing its ill effects.

Results showing a higher proportion of those who currently tan indoors or tanned indoors in the past feeling more relaxed and pleasant during may be due to addictive behaviors, the paper's authors said.

Explore further: Indoor tanning study reveals surprising new at-risk group for skin cancer

Related Stories

Indoor tanning study reveals surprising new at-risk group for skin cancer

January 6, 2017
In a new study of indoor tanning and skin cancer risk, the use of indoor tanning among non-heterosexual black male teens was found to be nearly equal to that of heterosexual white females. The study led by San Diego State ...

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.

Keeping minors from tanning beds would save thousands of lives, study says

December 6, 2016
(HealthDay)—Restricting people younger than 18 from indoor tanning could prevent thousands of skin cancers and deaths in the United States, according to a new study.

Indoor tanning associated with poor outdoor sun protection practices

October 12, 2016
Adults who frequently tanned indoors - a practice associated with an increased risk for melanoma - also practiced poor outdoor sun protection practices and were not more likely to undergo skin cancer screening, according ...

Trends in indoor tanning among high school students

December 23, 2014
While indoor tanning has decreased among high school students, about 20 percent of females engaged in indoor tanning at least once during 2013 and about 10 percent of girls frequently engaged in the practice by using an indoor ...

Study examines prevalence of indoor tanning use among non-Hispanic white females in US

August 19, 2013
Indoor tanning appears to be common among non-Hispanic white female high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 years, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter by Gery P. Guy Jr., Ph.D., M.P.H., and colleagues ...

Recommended for you

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.