A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that nearly a third of all white teen girls visit tanning salons, despite warnings that tanning increases their risk of a lethal form of skin cancer (as well as wrinkles). In fact, the study revealed that more than 15 percent of girls use tanning beds ten times or more a year.
"We need to encourage young women to embrace their natural, untanned skin colors," says Gery Guy of the CDC's division of cancer control, who led the research.
Guy's team looked at surveys of high school students and young adults from 2010 and 2011, which cover tens of thousands of people interviewed in depth.
"Among non-Hispanic white female high school students, 29.3 percent engaged in indoor tanning and 16.7 percent engaged in frequent indoor tanning during the previous 12 months," they wrote. "Among non-Hispanic white women aged 18-34 years, 24.9 percent engaged in indoor tanning and 15.1 percent engaged in frequent indoor tanning during the previous 12 months."
That's even though people who use indoor tanning treatments raise their risk of melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—by 59 to 75 percent. People who use tanning booths or lights before they are 25 raise the risk by as much as 100 percent.
"This widespread use is of great concern given the elevated risk of skin cancer among younger users and frequent users," Guy's team wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association's journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Melanoma kills more than 9,000 Americans a year.
Image: Girl's legs in tanning bed, via Shutterstock