MONDAY, Dec. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Young women who get their
tan out of a bottle may spend less time sunbathing or using tanning
beds, two riskier behaviors, according to a new study.
Using a sunless tanning product is a safe alternative to
ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure, which is linked to skin cancer
and premature aging, the researchers said. They found that women
who used tanning products most often reduced their overall
With a bottled tan, "there is no DNA damage," said lead author
Dr. Suephy Chen, an associate professor of dermatology at Emory
University in Atlanta. "The product adheres to the top layer of the
skin that sheds anyway."
Although some dermatologists believe promoting pale skin is a
better way to reduce the risk of skin cancer, Chen disagrees with
Getting people to stop tanning is really hard, Chen said. "There
are a lot of societal pressures, and it has been going on for
decades, so why not provide a safer way to achieve the same
appearance," she said.
The report was published in the Dec. 19 online edition of the
Archives of Dermatology.
For the study, Chen's team surveyed more than 400 women, age 18
and older, about their use of sunless tanning products and their
Almost 50 percent said they had used sunless tanning products at
least once in the last year. Most had used self-applied products,
with 9 percent saying they got a professionally applied spray tan.
The products were used by women of all ages, the researchers
More than 70 percent said they had tanned in the sun in the past
year, 26 percent said they had used a tanning bed and about
one-quarter said they did both, Chen's group found.
However, among those who used tanning products and tanned in the
sun, about 37 percent said they had reduced their sun time. Among
women who used both tanning products and tanning beds, 38 percent
said they had cut back on time spent in tanning beds because of
their bottled tan, the researchers found.
Women who used sunless tanning products at least five times in
the previous year spent 52 percent less time sunbathing, while
women who used these products less often reduced sun exposure by 18
percent, the study found.
Tanning bed use was reduced more than 50 percent among women who
used tanning products frequently, compared with about 24 percent
among women who used the tanning products less often, the
Most women surveyed (about 93 percent) believe tanned skin is
more attractive than pale skin, and more than 79 percent said they
felt better about themselves when tan, the researchers found.
The dangers of UV exposure are well-documented, and skin cancer
is the fastest growing cancer in the United States. Two years ago,
the World Health Organization put UV tanning beds in its top cancer
risk category, saying they are "carcinogenic to humans." On Jan. 1,
California will become the first state to ban anyone younger than
18 from tanning beds.
To increase use of sunless tanning products, manufacturers must
improve them, the study authors said. Existing products can streak
and cause an unnatural orange tinge.
Dr. Jonette Keri, an associate professor of dermatology at the
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said that "we would
prefer that people were nicely pale and pasty, but it's just not
the way it is -- people want to be tan." Women of college age are
especially avid tanners, she noted.
"We need to get away from the idea that a tan is healthy," Keri added. "But if you want a tan, sunless tanning products are not a bad way to go."
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