A new study suggests that frequent indoor tanners typically do not adequately protect themselves from the sun while outdoors.
Researchers looked at data from the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, which included 10,262 adults between the ages of 18 and 60. All were white and none had any history of skin cancer. Of the participants, 787 (seven percent) reported tanning indoors within the past year.
The results showed that frequent indoor tanners used less sunscreen, wore less protective clothing, and experienced more sunburns than those who did not frequently tan indoors.
Additionally, indoor tanners between the ages of 18 and 34 were more likely to never or rarely wear protective clothing or seek shady areas while outside in the sun.
Researchers alarmingly found these frequent indoor tanners were no more likely than their non-indoor tanning peers to be screened for skin cancer by a medical professional.
“These results demonstrate that many individuals who tan indoors may not acknowledge the long-term risks associated with increased UV exposure,” said study author Alexander Fischer of the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.
The researchers wrote in the report:
“Individuals who frequently tan indoors already have a worrisome risk profile for skin cancer, yet they continue to practice poor photoprotection along with increase sun exposure, increasing their risk for skin cancer beyond that associated with the use of indoor tanning alone.”
Over the past 40 years, skin cancer rates have more than tripled. In fact, it is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Researchers estimate that more than 8,500 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with skin cancer each day and that one in five Americans will develop the disease in their lifetime. As many as 40,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanoma every year.
“Taking an active approach to sun protection and skin cancer screening in high-risk populations, such as indoor tanners, may reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with skin cancer,” said the researchers.