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Sunless Tanning Gains Popularity With Teens

Studies Suggest Sunless Tanning Products Have Role to Play in Cancer Prevention Strategy

Survey of Teen Tanning Habits continued...

The telephone surveys were conducted between July and October of 2004.

About one in 10 (11%) reported using a sunless tanning product within the past year. Older teenage girls were most likely to use the products.

Sunless tanning product users also reported greater UV radiation exposure from sunbathing and tanning bed use. They also had more sunburns.

The study was funded in part by Neutragena Corporation, which manufacturers several sunless tanning products. The researchers report that the company had no role in the study’s design or in collecting or interpreting the data.

American Cancer Society director for risk factor surveillance and health policy Vilma E. Cokkinides, PhD, says teenage girls whose mothers used sunless tanning products were more likely to use them as well.

She tells WebMD that efforts to promote sunless tanning for skin cancer prevention may be premature.

“Dermatologists may feel differently, but I believe it is too soon to do this,” she says. “We don’t really know enough about how people are using these products.”

The two studies appear in the September issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

In an editorial accompanying the studies, Northwestern University professor of clinical dermatology and Archives editor June K. Robinson, MD, wrote that sunless tanning products may have the most impact on the habits of event tanners, such as teenage girls who want a bronzed glow for the prom.

The message may resonate less with habitual tanners who tan to improve their mood or reduce stress, she tells WebMD.

“It would be important to offer these people alternatives to tanning,” she says.

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