Results of a recent study by researchers at Emory University suggest that women who often use sunless tanning products are more likely to cut back on outdoor sunbathing and trips to tanning beds. The study also found that the desire for tanned skin remains strong despite growing awareness of the dangers of UV radiation exposure.
“For many years, the perception that tanned skin is more attractive has influenced people to tan in the sun, leading to an increase in UV radiation exposure and skin cancer,” says Suephy Chen, MD,associate professor of dermatology at Emory University School of Medicine. “Our goals in this study were to assess the effect of sunless tanning products on tanning habits and to ascertain reasons for using or not using sunless tanning products.”
During the study, which was published online first by Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals, 415 women were surveyed and asked about their tanning behaviors.
Of those participants, ranging in ages from 18 to 71, 48 percent had used sunless tanning products (STPs), 70.6 percent had tanned in the sun and 26.06 percent had used tanning beds at least once in the past year.
Of the women who reported STP use who also tanned in the sun, close to 40 percent of them said they had lessened their intentional sun exposure or their use of tanning beds because of the products. Survey participants who had used sunless tanners at least five times in the last year were the most likely to say they’d cut back on their other tanning behavior.
The study noted that the top reasons for using sunless tanning were its safety and to avoid wrinkles.
“This is a very powerful study,” said Jeffrey S. Dover, MD, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University, and a Boston-area dermatologist. “The positive message here is sunless tanning is safe; tanning beds and going to the beach is not.”
According to WebMD, more than 2 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S. and in 2010 alone, more than 68,000 new cases of melanoma were found.