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Better Laws Needed to Curb Teen Tanning Bed Use: Report

THURSDAY March 17, 2011 -- Researchers say current laws don't curb American teens' use of indoor tanning and that parents' attitudes about indoor tanning have a large influence on their children.

It's known that indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer.

The study authors interviewed 6,125 teens aged 14 to 17 and found that about 17 percent of girls and 3 percent of boys had used indoor tanning in the past year.

Factors that made it more likely a teen would use tanning beds included: Being female, white and older; having a large allowance; having a parent who used indoor tanning and allowed their teen to do so as well; and living within two miles of an indoor tanning facility.

Living in a state with legislation controlling youth access to indoor tanning had little effect on use, said the researchers, who analyzed state indoor tanning laws and evaluated youth access practices at nearly 3,400 indoor tanning facilities.

"Our data suggest that current laws, most of which involve parental consent requirements, are not working," the researchers wrote. "The high rate of indoor tanning by older adolescent girls suggests that better laws are needed, preferably in the form of bans for those younger than 18 years as recommended by the World Health Organization. Parents who influence their adolescents' indoor tanning behavior both by modeling this behavior themselves and by granting their permission for their adolescents to tan could play an important role in lowering their adolescents' melanoma risk."

The study appears online March 17 and in the May print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about indoor tanning.

Posted: March 2011


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