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Appearance-Focused Approach May Reduce Indoor Tanning

Last Updated: May 17, 2010.

Among women who tan indoors and exhibit seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms or pathological tanning motives, an appearance-focused skin cancer prevention intervention may help reduce indoor tanning, according to a study published in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology.

MONDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Among women who tan indoors and exhibit seasonal affective disorder (SAD) symptoms or pathological tanning motives, an appearance-focused skin cancer prevention intervention may help reduce indoor tanning, according to a study published in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology.

Joel Hillhouse, Ph.D., of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, and colleagues randomized 430 female students from two universities who were indoor tanners to an appearance-focused skin cancer prevention intervention group (n=200) or a control group (n=230). The intervention involved a booklet that discussed tanning history and norms, the effects of ultraviolet radiation, recommendations for indoor tanning involving harm reduction and abstinence, and information on healthier alternatives to tanning that enhance appearance.

The researchers found that two of the four pathological indoor tanning scales -- dissatisfaction with natural skin tone and opiate-like reactions to tanning -- were significant moderators of stronger intervention effects in women who scored higher on the scales. However, there were no significant moderator effects across all levels of the other two pathological tanning scales -- perceiving tanning as a problem and tanning tolerance -- as well as for all levels of SAD symptoms.

"Tailored interventions may address individuals' motivations for tanning and their relation to maladaptive behavior, such as dissatisfaction with appearance or the need for relaxation because of anxiety," the authors write.

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