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Pediatrics. 2002 Jun;109(6):1124-30.

Use of indoor tanning sunlamps by US youth, ages 11-18 years, and by their parent or guardian caregivers: prevalence and correlates.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Surveillance Research and Cancer Control, American Cancer Society, Atlanta, Georgia 30329, USA.



Tanning parlors have become common in the United States. Artificial ultraviolet radiation exposure from this source may be harmful and may increase the risk of melanoma, particularly when done for recreational purposes during childhood and early adult years. Population-based data on the prevalence and correlates of this activity is important in the evaluation of potential public health interventions for skin cancer prevention.


In 1998, we conducted a population-based telephone survey of youth and their primary caregiver. The sample (N = 1192) was weighted to represent the population of US youth living in households with a primary caregiver. Interviewers used a standardized questionnaire to document the characteristics of the participant and their practices, attitudes, and experiences regarding ultraviolet exposures. METHOD OF ANALYSIS: Weighted prevalence and adjusted prevalence odds ratios (aPOR) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were estimated. Independent factors were evaluated with multivariate logistic regression.


Ten percent of youth and 8% of their primary caregivers used indoor tanning sunlamps in the previous year. Thirty percent of the youth whose caregivers used indoor tanning sunlamps did so themselves as well. Independent predictors associated with indoor tanning sunlamp use were as follows: age 17 to 18 years (aPOR = 11.1; 95% CI: 5.0, 25.0); female (aPOR = 8.3; 95% CI: 3.6, 19.2); having a parent who used indoor tanning sunlamps in the previous year (aPOR = 8.7; 95% CI: 4.0, 18.9); nonuser of Sun Protection Factor 15 sunscreen at the beach or pool (aPOR = 1.9; 95% CI: 1.0, 3.4); and low sun sensitivity (aPOR = 2.3; 95% CI: 1.0, 5.3).


A substantial minority of American youth engages in indoor tanning. However, it is particularly prevalent among older youth, girls, and youth whose parents themselves use indoor tanning sunlamps. The knowledge of these trends may help focus public health initiatives.

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