Graphic Warnings May Work Best to Keep Women From Tanning Beds

Graphic Warnings May Work Best to Keep Women From Tanning Beds

Graphic Warnings May Work Best to Keep Women From Tanning Beds

In study, labels with pictures of skin cancer's grim toll worked better than printed cautions alone

SOURCE: Georgetown University Medical Center, news release, June 11, 2015

THURSDAY, June 11, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Disturbing images of skin cancer are more likely to make young women reconsider indoor tanning than the text-only warnings currently required by U.S. regulators, a new study suggests.

According to a team at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., nearly 30 percent of young, white women in the United States use indoor tanning each year, and half of them use indoor tanning 10 times or more a year.

"In terms of a public health issue, indoor tanning is a perfect storm -- young people, primarily women, indoor tan, which raises their risk of potentially deadly skin cancer. Yet, there are few prevention efforts targeting young adult women," lead researcher Darren Mays, an assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said in a center news release.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires indoor tanning machines to simply display a text warning saying: "Attention: This sunlamp product should not be used on persons under the age of 18 years."

The new study involved nearly 700 white women in their late-teens and 20s who tanned indoors at least once a year. The researchers found that text-only warnings were not nearly as effective in turning women off of indoor tanning as were text warnings that were also accompanied by graphic images of skin cancer.

Mays believes that "the stakes are really high because indoor tanning is a source of cancer that is entirely preventable."

Skin cancer remains the most common type of cancer in the United States, with nearly 4 million cases diagnosed each year, according to a U.S. Surgeon General's report released last year. According to Mays, experts now estimate that indoor tanning accounts for about 10 percent of those cases.

He also noted that melanoma -- the most deadly type of skin cancer -- is among the most widely diagnosed cancers among women younger than 40.

The study was published June 11 in the American Journal of Public Health.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about indoor tanning.
Copyright © 2015 HealthDay. All rights reserved.