Tanning salons are typically associated with a younger crowd, but the results of a newly published health survey show a surprising number of older adults are customers of these risky facilities.
Philadelphia’s Fox Chase Cancer Center included questions about tanning-bed habits in their 2005 National Health Interview Survey, the results of which were published this month in the online edition of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Data analysis showed that, despite the threat of skin cancer, adults of all ages are choosing to visit tanning salons-and not for the spray tan.
While 18- to 29-year-olds are still the most prevalent tanning salon patrons (20% of Americans in this age range use tanning beds), research shows that 17% of 30- to 39-year-olds, 14% of 40- to 49-year-olds, 10% of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 8% of those over 65 are indoor tanners. While most are female, the gender gap closes with age.
Researchers found the results dismaying. “Ninety percent of all skin cancers are thought to be associated with ultraviolet radiation, which is emitted during indoor tanning,” Fox Chase researcher Carolyn J. Heckman, Ph.D., told the press. “There is a myth that indoor tanning is safer than sunbathing, but this is not the case.” And this myth seems to have successfully pervaded all age groups.
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