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News » Filed under: Sun Safety/Tanning

ACS Researchers: Tanning Bed Use Among Minors Still a Problem

Article date: May 1, 2009

American Cancer Society researchers have played a major role in advancing our understanding of all aspects of cancer, from prevention and early detection to treatment and survivorship. In honor of Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month, we salute their efforts to learn more about skin cancer, whether it's studying trends in early detection practices or investigating new treatments.

In a recent study, researchers from the Society's Surveillance and Health Policy Research department found that teens are still frequenting tanning beds, despite laws restricting tanning bed use in several states. And many are getting burned while doing so, potentially raising their risk of skin cancer later in life.

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Much of this exposure comes from the sun, but it also comes from manmade sources, such as tanning beds. Because of the popularity of tanning among young people, both the World Health Organization and the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection recommend that anyone under the age of 18 be restricted from using indoor tanning.

The study, published in the American Cancer Society journal Cancer, was led by Vilma E. Cokkinides, PhD. Cokkinides and colleagues surveyed teens aged 11-18 and their parents in 1998 and again in 2004 about their tanning bed use, and found that the rate stayed about the same (10% compared to 11%) despite new laws in many states requiring parental permission.

More than half of the adolescents (57.5%) who used tanning beds reported burns following use. Teens were more likely to tan if they were female, had a positive view of tanning, and their parents tanned.

While ACS researchers found a slight decrease in tanning use in states that enacted tanning bed restrictions among minors, the numbers weren't statistically significant. Based on these findings, Cokkinides and her colleagues conclude that there's a need for more research into what strategies would be more effective in discouraging tanning bed use among minors.

For more information about melanoma, see Melanoma: Detailed Guide.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff

ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases.

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