Use of tanning beds by Caucasian women

tanning-bedThe tanning industry is a thriving, largely unregulated $2 billion industry.

Researchers on The New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch Dermatology Board reviewed the evidence.

First, the details.

  • 2 CDC surveys were used.
    • The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) of 2527 non-Hispanic white female high school students (grades 9-11; age range, 14-18 years)
    • The 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) of adults aged 18 to 34 years
  • Indoor tanning prevalence among non-Hispanic white women was reviewed.
  • Indoor tanning was defined as use of a tanning device at least once in the prior 12-months.
    • At least 10 times in that period constituted “frequent” use.

And, the results.

  • 29% had engaged in indoor tanning.
  • 17% of all responders and 57% of those who had ever been tanners tanned frequently.
  • Prevalence and frequency of indoor tanning increased with age.
  • Among 1857 non-Hispanic white female respondents to the NHIS (age, 18-34 years), 25% engaged in indoor tanning, 15% frequently in the previous year.
  • Among these respondents, prevalence and frequency of indoor tanning decreased with age.
  • In both surveys, the prevalence was highest in the South and Midwest.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Physician counseling, legislation limiting commercial use by minors, and FDA warnings about the adverse effects of tanning beds are needed to stem use by an alarming percentage of young tanners.”

Here are the risks
  • Indoor tanning before age 35 increases melanoma risk up to 75%, and melanoma risk increases 1.8% with each additional tanning session per year.
  • Use before age 25 increases nonmelanoma skin cancer risk up to 102%.
  • Melanoma incidence is increasing, especially among young, non-Hispanic white women.
  • Indoor tanning may be a causative factor, but prevalence data are limited.

A summary of the history of tanning and issues related to their use is presented here.

8/25/13 21:41 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.