Tanning Addiction Affects More Teens Than Previously Thought

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Adolescents who identify as minorities, as well as those with substance use or behavioral conditions, were more likely to report tanning addiction, according to a recent study. The findings, which were published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, contradict the popular belief that white, college-aged women are predominately affected by tanning addiction.

The cross-sectional study included 2637 racially and ethnically diverse 11th grade students in Los Angeles, California who completed the modified CAGE questionnaire (response rate 78%), which assessed tanning addiction, psychological conditions, and substance use.

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Overall, 7.02% of responders met the criteria for tanning addiction. Students who identified as Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander had the highest prevalence of tanning addiction, while those who identified as Asian and Asian-American had the lowest prevalence (10.5% vs 4.3%, respectively).

In regression models, the researchers found that tanning addiction was significantly associated with past 30-day smoking and marijuana use, problem substance use, depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Problem marijuana use (odds ratio [OR] 2.06, 95% CI, 1.03-4.09) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OR 2.54, 95% CI, 1.73-3.72) remained significantly associated with tanning addiction after the researchers controlled for all significant substance use and psychological variables. Additionally, tanning addiction was significantly associated with multiple problem substance use and behavioral health conditions.

“Our findings indicate an appreciable prevalence of tanning addiction among ethnically and racially diverse adolescents and suggest the importance of addressing tanning addiction in the context of comorbid behavioral conditions to reduce this high-risk behavior among diverse youth,” the researchers concluded.


Miller KA, Piombo SE, Cho J, et al. Prevalence of Tanning Addiction and Behavioral Health Conditions among Ethnically and Racially Diverse Adolescents [published online February 23, 2018]. J Investig Dermatol. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2018.02.018.