Researchers have revealed that its not only teenage girls who tan indoors, even older adults do so as well, thereby raising concerns over increasing rates of skin cancer.
The team analysed the data on indoor tanning behaviours collected in 2005 as part of an annual health survey called the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS).
The survey revealed that while 20 percent of 18-39 year olds visited tanning beds, as many as 10 percent elderly between 50 and 64 years of age and eight percent of those older than 65 tanned indoors.
"Our results are concerning, especially given the increasing rates of skin cancer, including the deadliest form—melanoma," said Carolyn J. Heckman, Ph.D., a behavioural researcher at Fox Chase.
"Ninety percent of all skin cancers are thought to be associated with ultraviolet radiation, which is emitted during indoor tanning. There is a myth that indoor tanning is safer than sunbathing, but this is not the case," he added.
The survey of 29,394 adults revealed that most of those reporting indoor tanning were females.
Heckman said that the analysis was conducted to gain more knowledge about the prevalence and correlates of indoor tanning among adults.
"Most prior studies have targeted adolescents and young adults. This is the largest study to date investigating indoor tanning in a cohort extending throughout adulthood and we were surprised by how many older adults visit-tanning facilities.
"This is further evidence of the expanding popularity of indoor tanning despite the increased risks for skin cancer," he added.
"While the skin cancer susceptibility of older adults is rooted in the sun exposure of their earlier years, indoor tanning contributes to an individual's cumulative exposure and increases their skin cancer risk," said Dr Stuart Lessin, director of dermatology and the Melanoma Family Risk Assessment Program at Fox Chase.
Heckman hopes that their findings will help to inform public and health professionals who may think indoor tanning isn't a concern for adults.
The study is published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.