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Melanoma/Skin Cancer Health Center

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Young Women Tan, Despite Health Risks

Two-Thirds of Sorority Members Tan Indoors, 6% Do So Weekly

Fighting Back

Hovenic and her colleagues are determined to turn these figures around. “Obviously just getting the message across that constant tanning, particularly indoor tanning, is bad, isn’t doing the trick; the young women know that,” she says.

So they devised a campaign tailored for young women, quoting Cosmo magazine and supermodels and featuring a video of a mother who lost her teenage daughter to melanoma.

“It seems to be having an impact,” Hovenic says. Although the data have yet to be analyzed, it appears the number of young women tanning once a week is down about 50%, she says.

But other studies suggest that their win may be short-lived: Unless the campaign continues, the alarming figures will bounce back, Hovenic says.

Pearl Grimes, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles, tells WebMD she is not surprised by the findings.

“Even though the AAD and other organizations attempt to get the message out that tanning is bad and indoor tanning is exceptionally bad, we live in a society driven by aesthetics,” she says.

Grimes says that in a recent study, men and women rated faces that were tanned as being more attractive and healthier than fair faces.

She says she would like to see national legislation prohibiting people under 18 from going to tanning parlors.

These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

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