Despite the alarming risks that are associated with tanning, including skin cancer, people are still not backing away from sunbeds due to motivational factors, such as attractiveness and relaxation.

Previous Research, also from October of this year, estimated a total of 170,000 cases of skin cancer in America that were caused by indoor tanning. The report also indicated that tanning bed users who are exposed before they reach the age of 25 are more likely to develop cancer.

The finding in the current study, published in Archives of Dermatology, a JAMA Network publication, came from a telephone survey of over 4,000 people which indicated that the prevalence of tanning bed use was about 40% for subjects who had ever used one and 14.6% had used one within the last year.

One of the most common risk factors for developing skin cancer is UVR (exposure to UV radiation), while sunbeds are where individuals commonly receive UVR. According to background information, sunbed use significantly raises the chance of developing skin cancer.

A team of researchers, led by Sven Schneider, Ph.D., M.A., of the Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany, set out to identify which characteristics make individuals more likely to use tanning beds, while also hoping to discover people’s motivations for tanning and potential targets for interventions to stop skin cancer from developing.

The study consisted of 4,851 individuals residing in Germany (50.9% male) aged 14 to 45 years old who were given a telephone survey.

The experts explained:

“The prevalence of ever use of sunbeds among the 14- to 45-year-olds in Germany was 39.2 percent, and every seventh person in this age group had used a sunbed during the last 12 months. A particularly large percentage of women, adolescents, immigrants and the employed reported using solariums.”

Results indicated that relaxation and attractiveness were the key motivations for tanning, while also showing that:

  • females were more likely to have ever used a sunbed compared to males – 49% vs. 29.8%
  • women were more likely to be currently using tanning beds than men – 17.7% vs. 11.7%
  • ever and current sunbed use was more common in subjects with skin type III to VI than in those with paler skin – 40.7% vs. 36.5% and 17.4% vs. 8.9%
  • individuals with an immigrant background were considerably more likely to be currently using a tanning bed – 19.7% vs. 13.2%

The researchers concluded:

“The present study presents target groups for future interventions: For example, such interventions could target occupations in which predominantly younger women work because the group of working women are particularly likely to use sunbeds.

Furthermore, the relationship between current sunbed use and immigrant background indicates a specific need for the education of this population subgroup.”

The authors hope that the findings will encourage sunbed personnel to become educated by independent institutions that are not connected with the tanning industry, because these employees do not properly inform their tanning customers that their motivations to tan do not outweigh the medical risks they will face.

Written by Sarah Glynn