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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Skin cancer – a fair trade for a beautiful tan?

A study conducted in 2000 found that 42% of teenage girls had tried indoor tanning, exposing themselves to dangerous ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and possibly explaining the increase in skin-cancer rates among women ages 15 to 29. The National Health Interview Survey, 2005 reports that 8.7% of teens aged 14-17 are using indoor tanning devices and that girls in that age group are seven times more likely than boys to use these devices.

Why are teens risking their health, many with their parents blessing? Is it famous people who sport tans? Do people not understand the risks? Tanning will lead to wrinkles and possibly skin-cancer – dermatologists say that any change in skin color means there is damage.

Everyone needs to avoid the sun and tanning, use sunscreen whenever you are out in the sun, and encourage friends to avoid tanning. The World Health Organization recommends that no person Skin care and sun or see "Hooked on Tanning"-- an online video from that examines the issue of young people spending too much time in tanning booths. This program looks at the big business of tanning and how young people get a kind of physical "high" from tanning that suggests it may be an addictive behavior. Go to Trouble with Tanning to view the video program, which includes a transcript, discussion guide, links to related resources and a slide presentation.

The National Health Interview Survey, 2005 is availalbe at

Photo by: Morgan Tepsic

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.