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Relax, Don’t Do it: German Study Shows Main Motivation for Tanning Beds is Relaxation


While it is true that every third cancer case diagnosed in developed countries is skin related, researchers in a new study found that information is still quite limited regarding the prevalence of tanning beds and the characteristics of users.  For instance, what is the true motivation of those using tanning beds; could it be that motivating factors go beyond just simply, “getting tan”?  


This German study was sponsored by the Mannheim Institute of Public Health (Heidelberg University, Germany) in cooperation with the Association of Dermatological Prevention (Hamburg, Germany). Researchers set out to gather detailed population-based data to help identify starting points for future national intervention measures to reduce the health risks of exposure to UVR. Interestingly, their findings demonstrate that relaxation is the main motivation of German users of tanning beds.


Researchers used a nationwide telephone survey of Germany’s general public—4,851 individuals aged 14-45– to measure the frequency of sun bed use and the motivational reasons for use. Their data showed that 1,901 participants of those 4,851 individuals have used sun beds, and 76% of current users sun beds for “relaxation” purposes.


Relaxation may not be characterized by the soothing warmth of the bed: users were also given the option of being motivated by “Light and Warmth,” which was only the forth prevalent motivation. The participants who use tanning beds as a tool of relaxation may also be drawn to other aspects like the solitude and ritual of using tanning beds, rather than light and warmth.


With a clearer understanding of users’ motivation of relaxing, national intervention measures to reduce the risks of exposure to dangerous levels of UVR could significantly decrease the number of diagnosed skin cancer cases. Unbiased, standardized education of tanning beds’ cancerous effects—similar to warnings issued on cigarettes and alcohol–could perhaps redirect current users away from using tanning beds as a means to relax.


Source: JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(1):43-49

[image by Valerie Yermal]

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