Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 679–686 | Cite as

Frequent Tanning Bed Use, Weight Concerns, and Other Health Risk Behaviors in Adolescent Females (United States)

  • David L. O’Riordan
  • Alison E. Field
  • Alan C. Geller
  • Daniel R. Brooks
  • Gideon Aweh
  • Graham A. Colditz
  • A. Lindsay Frazier
Original Paper



To examine the association between tanning bed use and weight concerns, health risk behaviors, and peer influence.


The Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) is an ongoing prospective cohort study of adolescents established in 1996. In 1999, a total of 6,373 adolescent females ages 12–18 (offspring of participants in the Nurses Health Study 2) completed the survey.


Almost nine percent (8.6%) of the adolescent girls had used a tanning bed 1–9 times and an additional 5.4% had used tanning beds at least 10 times in the past year (frequent users). Logistic regression models revealed that frequent tanning bed use was associated with being highly concerned about weight (OR = 1.5, 95%CI = 1.1, 2.0), frequently dieting to lose weight (OR = 1.5, 95%CI = 1.1, 2.0), using laxatives or vomiting to control weight (OR = 3.6; 95%CI = 2.2–5.8), having friends who placed a lot of importance on being thin (OR = 2.6; 95%CI = 1.3–5.1), smoking cigarettes (OR=1.7, 95%CI = 1.1, 2.6), binge drinking (OR = 2.1, 95%CI = 1.3, 3.1), using recreational drugs (OR = 3.0; 95%CI = 2.4, 3.8), and trying to look like females in the media (sometimes/pretty much: OR = 1.3, 95%CI = 1.0, 1.8).


Frequent tanning bed use among adolescent females is associated with a range of health risk behaviors. This effect may be mediated by peer influence and a desire to look like other females in the media. Multi-pronged approaches, particularly those that target attitudes of young females, are needed to combat increased use of tanning beds.


Adolescent females Tanning beds Health-risk behaviors Weight concerns and influences 



Funding for this project was provided by the American Skin Association.


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. O’Riordan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alison E. Field
    • 3
    • 4
  • Alan C. Geller
    • 2
    • 5
  • Daniel R. Brooks
    • 5
  • Gideon Aweh
    • 4
  • Graham A. Colditz
    • 4
  • A. Lindsay Frazier
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Prevention and Control Program, Cancer Research Center of Hawai’iHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyBoston University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Medicine and Department of PsychiatryChildren’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.The Channing Laboratory, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  5. 5.Department of EpidemiologyBoston University School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.The Department of Pediatric OncologyDana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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