What Type of Tanner Are You?

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Dec. 17, 2007 — What type of tanner are you? How you use indoor tanningbeds — and how often — may reveal a lot about your skin cancer risks.

A new study suggests that people who use indoor tanning beds fall into fourmain types ranging from special event tanners to regular tanners, and each typemay face different skin cancer risks.

The results show that a “one size fits all” approach to skin cancer prevention messages doesn’tapply to indoor tanners, and doctors should tailor their skin cancer preventionefforts to the indoor tanning habits of their patients.

Researchers say despite warnings, the popularity of indoor tanning beds hasincreased dramatically in recent years. Nearly 2 million Americans use tanningbeds each day, and the number of individual users has doubled to nearly 30million in the last decade.

Numerous studies have linked indoor tanning to a higher risk of bothmelanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancers.

Indoor Tanning Types

In the study, published in the Archives of Dermatology, researcherJoel Hillhouse, PhD, of East Tennessee State University, and colleaguessurveyed 168 young women who used indoor tanning beds about their tanninghabits.

Four main indoor tanning types emerged:

  • Event tanners (54%): This group tanned the least (about 12 times per year).They used indoor tanning beds numerous times over a short period before aspecial event and then went for long periods of time without tanning. They alsoreported the least positive attitudes related to indoor tanning.
  • Regular, year-round tanners (12%): This group used indoor tanning at leastweekly or biweekly (averaging more than 70 times per year) and had morepositive attitudes toward tanning than event tanners. These tanners startedtanning at a younger age compared with the other groups. The researchers calledthis the “most at-risk group.”
  • Spontaneous or mood tanners (6%): These tanners weren’t regular tanners butused indoor tanning on the spur of the moment or inspired by their moods.
  • Mixed tanners (29%): This group included tanners who not only tan regularlyduring certain seasons but also will event tan during the off season (anaverage of more than 25 times a year).

Researchers say that by identifying indoor tanners by type, doctors can bemore effective in tailoring their skin cancer prevention strategies. Forexample, regular year-round tanners may need to be screened for seasonal affective disorder or depression.

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