Frequent indoor tanners don’t protect themselves from the sun and are no more likely to be screened for skin cancer than those who don’t tan indoors, a new study suggests.
The researchers analyzed data from a 2015 federal government health survey. It included more than 10,200 white adults aged 18 to 60 with no history of skin cancer.
Of those, 7 percent said they had tanned indoors within the past year; 3.6 percent had done so one to nine times, and 3.4 percent had done it 10 times or more, the findings showed.
Frequent indoor tanning was associated with less use of sunscreen, sun-protective clothing and shade while outdoors, and with several sunburns in the past year.
In addition, frequent indoor tanners aged 18 to 34 were more likely to rarely or never wear sun-protective clothing or to seek shade on a sunny day than those who had never used a tanning bed.
Women who often tanned indoors were more apt to report they rarely or never use sunscreen, wear sun-protective clothing or seek shade. They also were more likely to say they had multiple sunburns in the past year than women who were not indoor tanners.
Men who used tanning beds frequently also were more apt to report that they rarely or never seek shade. Those who sometimes tanned indoors were more likely to say that they rarely or never used sun-protective clothing. They were also more likely to report multiple sunburns in the past year than men who did not tan indoors.
But indoor tanners were no more likely to have had a full-body skin examination than those who don’t use tanning beds, according to the study published online Oct. 12 in the journal JAMA Dermatology.
“These results demonstrate that many individuals who tan indoors may not acknowledge the long-term risks associated with increased UV exposure,” according to study author Alexander Fischer of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues.
“Thus, these findings highlight the importance of not only emphasizing avoidance of indoor tanning in public health messages and physician communication, but also reiterating the need for sun protection and skin cancer screening in this population,” the authors concluded.