HARRISBURG, Pa., (AP) — With prom season just around the corner, many high school students are starting to think about dresses, tuxes, and dinner arrangements. Some may even be planning indoor tanning sessions to get the perfect bronze for those memorable prom pictures.
While visiting an indoor tanning salon sounds innocent, a new study has dermatologists and psychiatrists raising a red flag and urging parents to ask a few questions. According to a study published recently in JAMA Dermatology and led by Gery Guy Jr., Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teens who use indoor tanning facilities are more likely to engage in other risky health behaviors.
The study suggests that indoor tanning was associated with binge drinking and unhealthy weight-control practices. For females, indoor tanning is also linked to illegal drug use and having sexual intercourse with four or more partners. In addition, for teenage boys, it was connected to steroid use and daily cigarette smoking. Attempted suicides were also noted for boys.
The study evaluated the Youth Risk Behavior Survey from 2009 and 2011 conducted by the CDC that involved 31,000 students nationally.
“Indoor tanning has long been questioned due to its association with skin cancer,” says Bruce A. MacLeod, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. “Now research tells us that it may also be a signal for other problems. That should be a red flag for parents.”
“It’s amazing how many of our young adults have developed melanoma after even moderate use of indoor tanning,” says Bruce Brod, MD, Political Advocacy Committee chairman of the Pennsylvania Academy of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery and a practicing physician in Lancaster. “That in itself worries dermatologists, but now research is telling us that there’s an association between tanning and other unhealthy behaviors.”
Kathleen Dougherty, MD, president of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, believes this research could have value in helping identify those more likely to put themselves at risk through other activities.