It’s difficult to imagine that a mother would intentionally introduce her daughter to a harmful habit. However, despite growing awareness of indoor tanning’s cancer risk, new research shows that many of today’s young tanning salon patrons began their bed-bronzing routines with a mother-daughter outing.
A research letter in The Archives of Dermatology describes a survey of 227 female students at East Tennessee State University. They were asked who they went with on their first trip to a tanning salon, and their age at the time.
Although some of the women had gone with friends, acquaintances or alone, 40%-the largest percentage-had their first indoor tanning experience with their mothers.
In addition to starting out younger-14 instead of 16-those who went with mom were also more likely to be frequent tanners today, visiting tanning salons at least twice a month.
Researcher and doctoral student Mary Kate Baker believes there needs to be more education about the dangers of tanning, but she’s concerned that the threat of cancer alone won’t be enough to sway mothers from taking their daughters to the tanning salon. Appealing to one’s desire to fit society’s idea of beauty may be necessary to curb this unfortunate family tradition.
According to Baker, “We need to also try to help people understand that pale can be beautiful as well.”
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