Indoor Tanning By High School Students Drops By Half Interview with:

Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH Senior Health Economist Division of Unintentional Injury CDC

Dr. Gery Guy

Gery P. Guy Jr., PhD, MPH
Senior Health Economist
Division of Unintentional Injury
CDC What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The incidence of skin cancer is increasing in the United States, and individuals who indoor tan are at an increased risk of skin cancer. Treating skin cancer costs $8.1 billion annually.

The number of high school students who indoor tan dropped by half from 2009 to 2015. In 2015, 1.2 million high school students indoor tanned, down from 2.5 million in 2009. This is a much bigger decrease than we have seen in the past and is an encouraging finding. We also found that 82% of indoor tanners reported sunburn in the past year compared with 54% of those who did not engage in indoor tanning. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The drop in the number of high school students who indoor tan is great news. Over the span of 2009-2015, 1.3 million fewer high school students are putting themselves at increased risk of skin cancer from indoor tanning. But, this means that 1.2 million high school students are still indoor tanning and increasing their risk of skin cancer. Plus, our data shows that these students are also more likely to sunburn, adding to their risk. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The reduction in indoor tanning is likely due to the increase in state laws banning indoor tanning among minors. The reduction may also be due to increased awareness about the health risks of indoor tanning. High school students may be getting the message that indoor tanning isn’t safe. Future research should continue to examine trends in indoor tanning and improve our understanding of what is working. Continued reductions in indoor tanning present an important cancer prevention opportunity. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: In addition to avoiding indoor tanning, individuals should take a layered approach by:
· Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and protective clothing outdoors
· Finding shade, especially during midday hours
· Using broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, even on cloudy days
· Avoiding sunbathing Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Everett Jones S, Guy GP. Sun Safety Practices Among Schools in the United States. JAMA Dermatol. Published online March 03, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.6274

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on March 7, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD