Tanning addiction is dangerous for everyone under the sun, even groups that often go overlooked, like minority teens in Los Angeles. New research shows that this unexpected group is plagued by tanning addiction – dispelling the myth that tanning and tanning addiction is a problem prevalent almost solely among white, college-age women.
The new study by the Keck School of Medicine of USC surveyed 2,637 11th-graders in Los Angeles. The survey found that about 7 percent of these students met the criteria for tanning addiction.
“Seven percent doesn’t sound like a whole lot, but it is when you consider that these teens are only 16- to 17-year-olds, and addiction tends to get worse over time,” said Kimberly Miller, the lead author of the study. Miller is also an assistant professor of clinical preventive medicine and dermatology at the Keck School of Medicine.
“It’s possible that more teens in Los Angeles are addicted to tanning than they are to smoking, yet education about the dangers of problem tanning aren’t emphasized nearly enough in schools, and certainly aren’t targeted to minorities,” Miller said.
One of the biggest dangers caused by frequent tanning is melanoma, the second most common form of cancer among 15- to 29-year-olds.
Researchers even said that some people continue to tan because it can actually make you feel good. Much like exercise, tanning can stimulate the production of endorphins, an opioid that improves your mood.
California has banned people under the age of 18 from tanning inside, but the tanning industry does not seem to be slowing down. Nearly 2 million high school students in the U.S. continue to tan indoors at salons each year, the study said, citing other research.