Sunless Tanning May Not Be the Answer to Preventing Skin Cancer

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A new study, “Characteristics and Skin Cancer Risk Behaviors of Adult Sunless Tanners in the United States,” conducted by researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School, aimed to uncover the demographic characteristics and skin cancer risk behaviors of adults who use sunless tanning products in the United States.

Within the pool of 27,000 participants, roughly 6.4% reported using sunless tanning products. The use of these products was most common among young, white, college-educated females and gay and bisexual men. Other important factors included living in the Western United States and having a family history of skin cancer.

“For the most part, adults who use sunless tanning products continue to engage in risky tanning behaviors,” said Matt Mansh, MD, the primary researcher in the study.

Adults who used these products were actually more likely to use indoor tanning beds and did so more frequently than individuals who did not sunless tan. Additionally, they were less likely to wear protective clothing or seek shade when outdoors. This study suggests that, in the general population, most people use sunless tanning products to supplement rather than replace risky tanning behaviors.

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