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6/23/2010
For Young Tanners Wrinkles Are Scarier Than Skin Cancer
What's the most effective way to convince young women to cut back on their indoor tanning, a habit that hikes their risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent? Warn them that it will cause leathery, wrinkled skin.
For Young Tanners Wrinkles Are Scarier Than Skin Cancer

They're not worried about skin cancer, but they are worried about getting wrinkled and being unattractive," said June Robinson, a professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and senior author of a May 17 paper in Archives of Dermatology reporting the findings. The study examined the best strategy to wean college-age women who are considered addicted or pathological tanners from tanning salons.

"The fear of looking horrible trumped everything else," Robinson said. "It was the most persuasive intervention, regardless of why they were going to tan." The research showed warning them about the effects on their appearance caused a 35 percent drop in their indoor tanning visits, which were measured at intervals up to six months after the intervention.

Joel Hillhouse, lead author of the paper and a professor of community health at East Tennessee State University, noted that some women in the study eventually stopped tanning. "It was a progressive kind of thing," he said. "At first the women said they tried sunless tanning as an alternative, but over time they gave up tanning altogether."

Between 25 to 40 percent of older adolescent girls visit tanning salons, according to the study's authors. They and other scientists link the rapidly rising rates of melanoma and other skin cancers in young women to tanning beds. A new 10 percent federal excise tax on indoor tanning will go into effect July 1 in an effort to discourage indoor tanning.

The National Cancer Institute found that melanoma rates among Caucasian women aged 15 to 39 rose 50 percent between 1980 and 2004. The World Health Organization recently reclassified indoor tanning beds to its highest cancer risk category.

The study included 435 college women, ages 18 to 22, who visited tanning salons. Within this population, researchers focused on women who visited salons up to four times a week - more than what is needed to maintain a tan - and who tanned for psychological reasons, not just for a special event.

These tanners included one group who strongly disliked the natural color of their skin, which was related to a psychological condition called body dysmorphia. "They thought their skin was disgusting when it was pale," Hillhouse said.

The other group, who said tanning made them feel happier and more relaxed, showed symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) on a diagnostic psychological test. "They were self medicating their own depression," Robinson said, noting that lying in a tanning bed produces internal opioids.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/189079.ph...

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