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A photo of a woman surrounded by the blue light of an indoor tanning bed.

According to U researchers, teens and their parents who tanned were less knowledgeable about the risks of skin cancer than their peers who chose not to visit a tanning salon.

Indoor tanning and teens

From eNews, February 5, 2004

If you want a suntan all year round but live in a winter wonderland like Minnesota, you're likely to visit a tanning salon. The popularity of indoor tanning among teens spurred two University of Minnesota researchers to take a closer look at the practices and attitudes of those who run and those who patronize the industry. School of Public Health professors DeAnn Lazovich and Jean Forster found that when buying tanning sessions, teens in the Twin Cities and Boston metro areas were asked for parental permission less than 35 percent of the time--even though there are state laws and local ordinances requiring teens to have a parent's permission for indoor tanning. More than 80 percent of those businesses sold sessions to teens who posed as customers. The researchers, who interviewed adolescents, parents, environmental health specialists, and tanning-business owners during the three-year study, also found that children whose parents had used an indoor tanning booth in the past year were much more likely to have tried indoor tanning themselves. And teens and their parents who tanned were less knowledgeable about the risks of skin cancer than their peers who chose not to visit a tanning salon. "These results suggest that an effective indoor-tanning intervention should try to change the tanning practices and beliefs of not just teens but also their parents," says Lazovich. Lazovich, Forster, and their research partners at the Harvard University School of Public Health developed Equipping Leaders of Indoor Tanning Establishments (ELITE), a program to teach tanning businesses how they can comply with health laws. Lazovich says further research is necessary to establish the link between indoor tanning and skin cancer. "Most studies in this area pre-date contemporary indoor tanning equipment," she says. "We need to investigate the industry in its current state to accurately understand the health risks associated with it."

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