Tanning Increases Substance Abuse in Teens

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Found more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs and steroids.
Found more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs and steroids.

HealthDay News — New survey results suggest that teenagers who go to tanning salons may be more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs and steroids, according to a research letter published online in JAMA Dermatology.

In the new study, a team led by University of Colorado researchers examined the answers of 12,671 Colorado high school students who responded to a survey. Of those who responded that they used tanning beds at least once in the past 12 months, females were about twice as likely as males to say they used tanning salons (64.5 versus 33.8%).

Two-thirds (66.2%) of those who'd tanned said they'd used marijuana in their lives, compared to 35.3% of the other students. Twenty-one percent of the indoor tanners said they'd used steroids compared to 1.5 percent of the others; 9.6% said they'd smoked cigarettes daily over the last month compared to 1.5 percent of other others. Females who tanned indoors were especially likely to use Ecstasy and abuse prescription drugs, while males seemed to be especially drawn to steroids and heroin, study coauthor Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, told HealthDay.

The results suggest that teens who tan indoors — upping their odds for skin cancer — might also be prone to engage in other risky behaviors, according to the researchers.

Reference

Sendelweck MA, et al. Associations Between Indoor Tanning and Substance Use Among Colorado High School Students. JAMA Dermatol. 2016; doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.5663.

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