Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Study Links Indoor Tanning by Teenagers to Other Risky Health Behaviors

Teens who use indoor tanning facilities are more likely than their peers to engage in other risky health behaviors such as binge drinking and drug use, according to a study published in JAMA Dermatology and led by Gery Guy, Jr., Ph.D., a health economist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggesting that indoor tanning is a behavior about which psychiatrists might want to ask. In 2009, and again in 2011, the CDC conducted a Youth Risk Behavior Survey, based on a nationally representative sample of U.S. high school students. Out of approximately 31,000 students surveyed, 26,000 answered a question about indoor tanning, with the researchers using these data for their study.

They found that 16% of the teenagers responding to the 2009 survey and 13% responding to the 2011 survey said they engaged in indoor tanning. The prevalence was significantly greater among the female high school students. Yet among both male and female students, indoor tanning was significantly associated with other risky health behaviors, such as binge drinking and unhealthy weight-control practices. Additionally, indoor tanning among female high school students was linked with illegal drug use and having had sexual intercourse with four or more partners. Use among male students was linked with daily cigarette smoking and taking steroids without a physician's prescription. Also of note, attempted suicide was associated with indoor tanning among male students.

"This study highlights that indoor tanning is fairly common in adolescents and can be associated with other high-risk behaviors," Cathryn Galanter, M.D., a visiting associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Training Program at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, said in an interview with Psychiatric News. "Child and adolescent psychiatrists and other health care providers should be aware of the high rates of tanning and its association with other high-risk behaviors and should consider inquiring about indoor tanning with their patients."

More information about the relationship between indoor tanning and mental health can be found in the Psychiatric News article, "Obsessive Tanning Resembles Addictive Behavior."

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