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Higher Substance Use Found Among Teens Who Tan

Found more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs and steroids

tanning bed

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 20, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- New survey results suggest that teenagers who go to tanning salons may be more likely to smoke, drink, and use illegal drugs and steroids, according to a research letter published online Jan. 20 in JAMA Dermatology.

In the new study, a team led by University of Colorado researchers examined the answers of 12,671 Colorado high school students who responded to a survey. Of those who responded that they used tanning beds at least once in the past 12 months, females were about twice as likely as males to say they used tanning salons (64.5 versus 33.8 percent).

Two-thirds (66.2 percent) of those who'd tanned said they'd used marijuana in their lives, compared to 35.3 percent of the other students. Twenty-one percent of the indoor tanners said they'd used steroids compared to 1.5 percent of the others; 9.6 percent said they'd smoked cigarettes daily over the last month compared to 1.5 percent of other others. Females who tanned indoors were especially likely to use Ecstasy and abuse prescription drugs, while males seemed to be especially drawn to steroids and heroin, study coauthor Robert Dellavalle, M.D., Ph.D., M.S.P.H., an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Colorado, told HealthDay.

The results suggest that teens who tan indoors -- upping their odds for skin cancer -- might also be prone to engage in other risky behaviors, according to the researchers.

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