By Richard Nelson, managing editor, May 01, 2015
In a sign that the efforts of dermatologists to change the culture around indoor tanning are having an impact, the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention*, has shown a drop in the percentage of teenagers who said they used an indoor tanning device in its last two iterations. (To learn more about dermatologists’ efforts on this front, read last August’s cover story, “Taking on tanning.”) The 2013 survey showed that the likelihood of using an indoor tanning device rises with age — 12th graders are more than twice as likely to tan as 9th graders — and is four times more common among females than males.
While more teens are heeding warnings about the dangers of tanning, sunscreen use among the age group has hardly budged for a decade. See "A faster pipeline" for discussion of how a new law may lead to more sunscreens on the market in the U.S.
*The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey is conducted every other spring by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 2013 version includes responses from 13,583 students in grades 9-12. Visit www.cdc.gov/yrbss for more information.
**Percentage of high school students who said they most of the time or always wore sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher when they were outside for more than one hour on a sunny day.
***Percentage of high school students who said they had used an indoor tanning device, such as a sunlamp, sunbed, or tanning booth one or more times during the 12 months before the survey.