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Survey: 'Tanorexia' common among university students
Date:9/2/2008

PHILADELPHIA (Sept. 2, 2008) -- A new study conducted at a large university finds more than 25 percent of those surveyed reported symptoms of tanning dependence, including symptoms similar to alcohol and drug-addicted individuals. Suggestively, the study also found those with a tanning dependence tend to be more likely to be thin and smoke cigarettes than others. The study by researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center is published in the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Behavior.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, accounting for half of all human cancers with over a million new cases diagnosed yearly in the United States. It is reported that up to 90 percent of all skin cancers are associated with ultraviolet radiation.

For the study, Heckman and her colleagues set out to understand what proportion of college students report problems with tanning dependence and whether there are shared behaviors among those considered to be tanning dependent and those with other forms of addiction.

"Adolescents and young adults tend to put themselves at risk for later skin cancer by exposing themselves to high levels of ultraviolet radiation, so by understanding some possible reasons why, we hope to develop innovative interventions to help prevent these risky behaviors," explains Carolyn Heckman, Ph.D., an associate member at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

Heckman and her colleagues recruited 400 students and other volunteers at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia during the spring semester of 2006. Participants took part in an online survey utilizing items adapted from questionnaires used to measure traditional substance abuse and dependence. The measures assess tolerance to tanning (the need to tan increasingly frequently), withdrawal from tanning (discomfort when not having tanned recently), and difficulty controlling the behavior des
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Contact: Karen Mallet
karen.mallet@fccc.edu
215-728-2700
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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