The majority of Americans think they look better with a tan, according to the American Academy of Dermatology; and despite a definitive link between tanning and skin cancer, many aren’t willing to change their habits. So instead of approaching it from a health angle, experts now say that appealing to our superficial side could be a more effective intervention.
East Tennessee State University researchers studied over 400 women who use tanning beds for a variety of reasons, from feeling addicted to the experience to believing that they aren’t attractive enough when their skin isn’t tan. Half of them were given a booklet with information on how tanning can damage skin’s appearance, as well as healthy alternatives for enhancing one’s looks (i.e. using self-tanner and choosing clothing that flatters any skin tone).
Six months later, researchers found that those who received the booklet had decreased their tanning habits, regardless of what their tanning motives had been.
“Providing young patients who tan with information on the damaging effects of tanning on their appearance is effective even if they are addicted to tanning or using it to ameliorate depression symptoms,” the authors wrote in a report appearing in the Archives of Dermatology. They believe this is because even those with psychological grounds for tanning are still concerned about their appearance.
“Emphasizing the appearance-damaging effects of UV light, both indoor and outdoor, to young patients who are tanning is important no matter what their pathological tanning behavior status,” they said.
The researchers believe this approach is a promising method for skin cancer prevention, even though it doesn’t focus on skin cancer.
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