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Teens Follow Mom's Lead on Tanning Beds

FRIDAY, May 13 (HealthDay News) -- Many white teen girls and young women in the United States who use indoor tanning beds have mothers who also use tanning beds, a survey finds.

Indoor tanners were more than four times more likely to say their mothers use tanning beds than respondents who don't use tanning beds (42 percent vs. 10 percent), according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) online nationwide poll of more than 3,800 white females aged 14 to 22.

"Mothers who tan indoors are not only putting themselves at risk for skin cancer, but they also may be putting their daughters at risk," Dr. Ellen S. Marmur, an associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City, said in an AAD news release. "The survey shows how influential mothers can be on their daughters' behavior, and that is why it's critical for mothers to set a good example by not tanning."

The survey also found that indoor tanners were more than twice as likely (65 percent) to have a family member who uses an indoor tanning bed, compared to those who aren't indoor tanners (28 percent). And 94 percent of the indoor tanners said their parents know that they were using or had used a tanning bed.

Peer pressure appears to be a major factor in convincing teen girls and young women to tan. Respondents who used tanning beds in the past year were nearly twice as likely as non-tanners to indicate feeling peer pressure to tan -- 49 percent vs. 28 percent. Nearly all indoor tanners (96 percent) said they have friends who tan indoors and/or outdoors.

Indoor tanning increases the risk of melanoma -- the deadliest type of skin cancer -- by 75 percent, according to the AAD. May is Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month.

"Tanning is a dangerous, unhealthy behavior, similar in seriousness to smoking or drinking alcohol, where teens often succumb to peer pressure," Marmur said. "Yet, it is troubling that so many parents are aware of their teens' use of tanning beds and allow this harmful behavior to continue or even set a bad example themselves by indoor tanning. We urge parents to educate their teens about the dangers of UV exposure from tanning beds and to discourage or prohibit this activity for all family members."

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about indoor tanning.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, May 9, 2011

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