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Researchers Identify Motivation Behind Skin Tanning

Update Date: Oct 16, 2012 09:26 AM EDT

The increasing popularity of tanning beds has been a major concern for public health departments as exposure to UV rays is one of the major factors responsible for the development of skin cancers in many a people, and there is evidence of the same.  

A recent survey of 4851 people in Gremany suggests that the overall prevalence of sunbed use was nearly 40 percent for participants who had ever used one and 14.6 percent had used a tanning bed within the last 12 months, Medical Xpress reports.

Researcher Sven Schneider, Ph.D., M.A., of the Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Heidelberg University, Mannheim, Germany, and colleagues, through the survey, aimed to determine the rates of sunbed use. Also, they wanted to investigate what were the motivating factors for tanning, and identify targets for interventions to prevent skin cancer.

The study included 4,851 individuals, aged between 14 and 45 years, a little more than half of whom where men.

"The prevalence of ever use of sunbeds among the 14- to 45-year-olds in Germany was 39.2 percent, and every seventh person in this age group had used a sunbed during the last 12 months. A particularly large percentage of women, adolescents, immigrants and the employed reported using solariums," the authors comment.

The findings revealed that in comparison to men, women were more likely to have ever used a sunbed (49 percent vs. 29.8 percent) or to be currently using sunbeds (17.7 percent vs. 11.7 percent).

Also, it was found that people with skin type 3 to 6 were more likely to use sunbeds when compared to people with paler skin (40.7 percent vs. 36.5 percent and 17.4 percent vs. 8.9 percent).

The current users of sunbeds were more likely to be immigrants compared to people who belonged to the place (19.7 percent vs. 13.2 percent).

While investigating the factors that acted as motivators for tanning, the researchers found that people did it for either relaxation or to look more attractive.

"The present study presents target groups for future interventions: For example, such interventions could target occupations in which predominantly younger women work because the group of working women are particularly likely to use sunbeds. Furthermore, the relationship between current sunbed use and immigrant background indicates a specific need for the education of this population subgroup," the authors conclude.

The study researchers suggest that their study emphasizes on the need for a standardized education of sunbed personnel by independent institutions that are not associated with the sunbed industry. They also note that sunbed users are often not told by personnel that their motivation for tanning is not medically sound.

The study was published Online First by Archives of Dermatology.

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