'Everything causes cancer these days': How teenagers justify use of tanning beds – despite serious health risks
16:47 GMT, 20 June 2012
Teenagers and young adults are knowingly risking cancer for the sake of a sun-kissed tanning bed glow, a new survey has revealed.
The poll, by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, found that despite being faced with a barrage of health warnings, risks associated with sunbeds seemed insignificant to the young participants.
Of those who confessed to having used a tanning bed, a surprising 59per cent said they agreed with the statement: 'Tanning bed use can make me ill, but everything causes cancer these days.'
Risky business: A new survey revealed that teens and young adults are willing to ignore the dangers of sunbeds as 'cancer is everywhere'
The study was conducted by researchers using the testimonies of 600 university students.
Asked to respond to the statement: 'Tanning bed use is no more risky than lots of other things that people do,' 52per cent agreed with the theory.
The students were able to justify their sunbathing habits when faced with defensive statements but the statistics shifted when the wording was altered slightly.
Only ten per cent agreed with the statement: 'Tanning bed use cannot be all that bad for you because many people who use tanning beds live long lives.'
A mere two per cent more were willing to go along with the theory that it was more important that they work on their tans than worry about skin cancer at their age.
Study researcher Smita Banerjee, a behavioral scientist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, said the students' tendency to weigh up the pros and cons of sunbeds and err in their favour, was unsurprising.
'Thinking that there is danger all around you is a common way of justifying risky behaviors'
'The type of thinking that there is danger all around you, and hence unavoidable, is a common way of justifying risky behaviors', she told My Health News Daily. 'Of course, the flaw to such thinking is the assumption that all dangers pose the same level of threat or harm.'
Understanding how the subjects reacted to the different statements though provides valuable insight that can help the way health care professionals approach the topic with youngsters and create awareness, she said.
Rather than telling people that everything is bad for you, Dr Banerjee suggested, doctors can now work towards teaching patients to prioritise their health risks.
She also acknowledged that while the results were informative, the study was relatively small and may not represent other similarly aged people's attitudes.