Indoor tanning associated with risky health behaviors in adolescents

Indoor tanning associated with risky health behaviors in adolescents

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1. In high school students, indoor tanning was common (13.3%) and had the highest prevalence in Non-Hispanic White females greater than 17 years (31.5%). 

2. High school students who participated in indoor tanning also frequently associated in other risky health behaviors.  Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)           

Study Rundown: Adolescents in the United States participate in hazardous activities, including tanning beds, a significant risk factor for skin cancer. This study associated the rate of indoor tanning use with other health related behaviors among high school students. Though indoor tanning was common among teenagers, older Non-Hispanic White females had the highest prevalence. Furthermore, indoor tanning was associated with other risky behaviors (e.g. illegal drug usage, binge drinking, and unhealthy weight control practices), suggesting that greater emphasis should be placed on counseling teens about unsafe activities that may be clustered together. Strengths of this study included incorporating data from two separate years and a sample size of over 21,000. However weaknesses also existed. The answers of the participants were not verified, possibly leading to false reports. Additionally, from the results given, it was unclear whether tanning or other risky behavior came first. Future studies may be necessary to further understand factors that motivate indoor tanning.

Click to read the study in JAMA Dermatology

Relevant Reading: Teens and indoor tanning: a cancer prevention opportunity for pediatrics

In-Depth [cross-sectional study]: This study analyzed 16,410 high school students in 2009 and 15,425 high school students in 2011, using metrics from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. It was found that 15.6% and 13.3% of students participated in indoor tanning in 2009 and 2011, respectively. Female students had a higher prevalence than male students of indoor tanning and as such analyses were separated by gender. The highest prevalence in female students occurred in those of an age greater than 17 years old (p <0.05) and of a Non-Hispanic White race (p <0.001). Geographical associations were also present with indoor tanning rates of 22.2% in the South compared to 17.4% in the West (p=0.002). Females who utilized indoor tanning showed significantly greater rates of binge drinking, illegal drug use, unhealthy weight control, and having sexual intercourse with 4 or more partners. Females showed a negatively associated correlation between suicide attempt and indoor tanning (p=0.002). In male students, the highest prevalence of indoor tanning was also in the older Non-Hispanic White population. They had a higher rate of risky health behaviors such as smoking, binge drinking, non-prescription steroid usage, unhealthy weight control, and having sexual intercourse with 4 or more partners. However, Males, unlike the female population, had a positive association between indoor tanning and suicide attempts (p=0.006).

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