Over a third of New Jersey teenagers practice indoor tanning and, according to a recent study, they do it frequently. Furthermore, those who tan are more likely to be smokers and to engage in tanning related social media sites. Tanning, especially among teenagers, is highly related to melanoma development.
A recent research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology under the title “Frequent Indoor Tanning among New Jersey High School Students,” reports that frequent indoor tanners are more likely to engage in social media activities connected to tanning and to smoking. The study was conducted by Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and the university’s School of Public Health.
Indoor tanning was banned in 2013 in New Jersey for teenagers under 17, since it exposes users to UV rays that seriously damage the skin and can lead to skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains that this practice is even more dangerous for teenagers or young adults since it increases their chances of developing the deadliest type of skin cancer — melanoma.
Researchers believe these results will support further assessments on the impact of tanning practices prohibition among New Jersey teens. “Even though a commercial tanning bed ban is now in place for many high schoolers in New Jersey, we have learned from the experiences of other states that this does not entirely eliminate indoor tanning among youth. Thus, there is still a need to develop and implement interventions for this population — and for youth across the U.S. – to reduce the likelihood that they will engage in indoor tanning,” noted Elliot Coups, an associate professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, behavioral scientist at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey and lead author of the study.
This report included data from the 2012 New Jersey Youth Tobacco Survey where a total of 1,754 students were assessed and 8.5 percent reported taking part in indoor tanning practices over the last year. There were more female students among those who tan (66.1 percent) and more smokers (25.0 percent). The results showed that 38 percent of subjects were considered ‘frequent’ indoor tanners, a trend more common among indoor tanners who were also current smokers (57.6 percent frequent tanners).
“Given more than half of frequent tanners are using social media related to indoor tanning, this might serve as a viable mechanism to deliver messaging about the risks of this activity. The higher rate of smoking among frequent tanners also suggests these users may benefit from interventions that address multiple behavioral risk factors,” explained Dr. Coups.