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Use of Sunless Tanners May Cut Exposure to UV Radiation

People Who Use Self-Tanners May Cut Back on Sun Bathing, Tanning Beds

WebMD Health News

Dec. 19, 2011 -- Women who often use sunless tanners -- those creams and sprays that fake a tan -- may reduce their sunbathing time and tanning bed use, according to a new study.

"Using the sunless tanners can change tanning behaviors," says researcher Suephy C. Chen, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine. ”People who used the sunless tanners decreased the number of times they laid out or went to tanning booths."

In the study, nearly 37% of people who used sunless tanning products and sunbathed reported they cut down their sunbathing time. And 38% who used sunless tanners and tanning beds cut back on the tanning bed sessions.

The study is published online in the Archives of Dermatology.

Sunless Tanners: Doctors Debate

"There is a controversy among dermatologists about whether to promote sunless tanning," Chen says. "Some think it sends a message that tanning is OK."

Others are more pragmatic, she says. They figure many people won't give up trying to tan, so they should point them to safer options that don't carry a risk of skin cancer.

Nearly 93% of the 415 women Chen polled said tanned skin is more attractive than pale. Nearly 80% said they feel better about themselves when tan.

Chen's team set out to discover if using the sunless tanning products would reduce exposure to ultraviolet (UV)  radiation from  the sun and to tanning beds.

More than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. In 2010, more than 68,000 new cases of the more deadly skin cancer, melanoma, were found, according to the American Cancer Society.

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