BEND, OR -- A professor at OSU-Cascades says tanning has become an addiction for some millennials, and increased state regulations and efforts to educate young people about the dangers of skin cancer aren’t helping to curb the trend. "When I started this project, I was obviously interested in it. But, I was like, ‘surely, so many people, they know right? I mean, they know that tanning is bad; they’re really not doing this still, really – are they'?" Dr. Amy Watson tells KBND News, "It turns out, in pretty startling numbers, they actually – in fact – are."
Dr. Watson’s study on addictive tanning appears in the latest Journal of Consumer Affairs. She found two key factors contribute to dangerous and excessive unprotected UV exposure, "Self-esteem: So, those with lower self-esteem are more likely to be addictive tanners; Those with high levels of narcissism. And, that completely makes sense, if you do any research about narcissism, knowledge isn’t going to be impactful for them because they know."
She says some people are so concerned about how they look that they continue to "tan" even after learning of the skin cancer risk. And, she says the danger extends beyond the tanning bed, "We definitely have indoor tanners in Central Oregon. But, we also have a large number of those who are participating in activities year-round outside, that are exposing them to sun, and they’re not maybe always aware of how to properly protect themselves from it, even if they think they are." Eventually, she hopes to collaborate with the local health community to find ways to positively influence consumer opinions toward tanning and sun protection.