HealthDay News — Indoor tanning prevalence is about 30% for high school students and about 25% among 18- to 34-year-olds, with use peaking in the 18- to 21-year-old age group and declining with age, according to the CDC.

“This widespread use is of great concern given the elevated risk of skin cancer among younger users and frequent users,”  Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH, of the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues wrote in a letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

They analyzed data from two nationally representative surveys, the 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey of high school students and the 2010 National Health Interview Survey for adults aged 18 through 34, to determine indoor tanning use among non-Hispanic white females. 

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Among high school students, 29.3% reported tanning at least once in the 12 months before the survey, and 16.7% reported frequent use, defined as using an indoor tanning device at least 10 times during the previous 12 months.

The proportion of those who reported any indoor tanning increased with age from 14.2% among those aged 14 years and younger to 43.8% among those aged 18 years and older. A similar pattern was observed for frequent tanning, with prevalence increasing from 6.2% among girls 14 years and younger to 29.9% among those 18 years and older (P<0.001 for both).

Among tanners, the proportion of high schools students who reported frequent use increased with age from 43.5% of those aged 14 years and younger to 68.2% of those aged 18 and older (P=0.04).

Among women aged 18 through 34 years, the pattern was different. Overall, 24.9% of women in this age group reported tanning at least once in the previous 12 months, with the highest rates reported among 18 through 21 year olds, at 31.8%. This rate dropped to 17.4% among women aged 30 through 34 years.

Frequent indoor tanning use peaked at 21.3% in 18 through 21 year old age group and then declined to 10.5% among those 30 through 34 years (P<0.001 for both trends).

However, the proportion of tanners in the older age group who reported frequent use did not change significantly with age. Among the 18- to 21-year old group, 67.6% of indoor tanners reported frequent use, dropping to 56.3% among those aged 22 through 25 years and increasing again to 60.6% among those aged 30 through 34 years.

“This study provides nationally representative estimates, allowing for the continued monitoring of indoor tanning and evaluation of efforts aimed at curbing the widespread use of indoor tanning among young women and reducing the burden of skin cancer,” Guy and colleagues wrote.

They recommended “appearance-focused interventions” to reduce UV radiation exposure from indoor tanning to reduce the burden of skin cancer, with particular focus on teens and frequent user. 


  1. Guy GP et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2013; doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.10013.