High Indoor Tanning Frequency Associated With Heavier Drinking, Smoking, and More Caffeine Intake

A woman indoor tanning
The association of indoor tanning with other potentially risky behaviors was investigated.

People who frequently use tanning beds are more likely to engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors, including smoking, heavy drinking, and consuming high amounts of caffeine, according to study findings published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The study was a cross-sectional analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study 2. In total, 75,957 nurses (all women) were included in this analysis, with 75.5% reporting they had never used indoor tanning beds. The researchers evaluated associations of indoor tanning frequency with smoking status, alcohol consumption, and caffeine intake, both at baseline in 1989 and in the follow-up questionnaire administered in 1991.

A total of 1809 women in the health study said they used indoor tanning 12 or more times per year, and the majority said they never used indoor tanning methods (n=57,241). Indoor tanning use 1 to 2 times per year was reported by 10,900 participants and 3 to 11 times per year by 5862 participants. Those with psoriasis were more likely to report frequent indoor tanning compared with participants without psoriasis (4.1% vs 2.4%, respectively; P <.0001).

In addition, those who reported indoor tanning 12 or more times per year were more likely to be current smokers at baseline (odds ratio [OR], 2.47; 95% CI, 2.18-2.80; P <.0001), consume 14 or more alcoholic drinks per week from the ages of 23 to 30 (OR, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.72-2.83; P <.0001), have 3 or more alcoholic drinks on any day in a typical month (OR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.81-2.20; P <.0001), or drink 6 cups of coffee or more per day (OR, 2.21; 95% CI, 1.68-2.90; P <.0001).

Frequent indoor tanners were also more likely than those who never tanned to participate in 1 other potentially addictive behavior (OR, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.97-2.45) and more likely to participate in 2 or more potentially addictive behaviors (OR, 3.46; 95% CI, 2.95-4.06).

Limitations of this study included its retrospective nature as well as the inclusion of only women, which may reduce the findings’ generalizability.

The investigators concluded that “indoor tanning may be a marker for women at risk of multiple addictions who can be targeted by public health strategies to prevent indoor tanning dependence and other addictions.”


Tsibris HC, Nan H, Li X. Association between indoor tanning frequency during early life and other potentially addictive behaviors among US women. Published online January 6, 2021. J Am Acad Dermatol. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2020.12.052