MONDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Tanning bed use remains popular among Americans, a new study shows, despite reported links to an increased risk of skin cancer and the availability of safe "spray-on" tans.
In fact, about one in every five women and more than 6 percent of men say they use indoor tanning, University of Minnesota researchers report.
"Tanning is common, particularly among young women," said study author Kelvin Choi, a research associate from the university's School of Public Health. "The use of tanning is actually higher than smoking."
"People tan for aesthetic reasons," said Dr. Cheryl Karcher, a dermatologist and educational spokeswoman for The Skin Cancer Foundation. "A lot of people feel they look better with a little bit of color. Eventually, people will realize that the skin you were born with is the skin that looks best on you."
Karcher noted that there is no safe level of tanning. "Ultraviolet light damages the DNA of cells and makes cancer," she said. "People should absolutely avoid indoor tanning. There is absolutely no reason for it. In the long run, it's really harmful."
Yet, many seem unaware of the risk for skin cancer linked to tanning beds and don't consider avoiding them as a way to reduce their risk of skin cancer, the researchers noted.
That's unfortunate, Choi said, because "the popularity of indoor tanning among young women may contribute to the recent increase of melanoma in women under 40."
The report is published in the December issue of the Archives of Dermatology.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2009 there were about 1 million new cases of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer and about 8,650 Americans died from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.
Numerous studies have linked indoor tanning to a heigh
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