US adults step away from the tanning bed

An indoor tanning bed.

Slowly but surely, individuals are turning their backs on indoor tanning -- without catching any rays -- according to a new study.

To be clear, the practice is still in full swing with an estimated 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still flocking to tanning beds despite a decades-old link to increased cancer risk, according to the study.

Yet the rates dipped from 5.5 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013, the study concluded.

In the study, which was published online in a research letter by JAMA Dermatology, a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, worked with data from 59,145 individuals.

The team was able to identify decreases in tanning bed use among those aged between 18 and 29, whose rates dipped from 11.3 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent in 2013.

In this group, women made up 8.6 percent of indoor tanners in 2010 and 6.5 percent in 2013 while men represented 2.2 percent in 2010 and 1.7 percent in 2013.

Women who use tanning beds saw a 28 percent drop in the oldest age bracket, and college graduates' use of tanning beds dropped 45 percent.

Whereas women in fair or poor health saw a dip of 33 percent, very fit women abandoned tanning bed use by 23 percent.

Their male counterparts, however, flocked to indoor tanning salons, upping their frequency by 177 percent in the 40 to 49 age bracket.

Tanning bed use was 71 percent higher in men age 50 or older, however, cancer survivors discontinued use by 45 percent.

The research team attributes the dip to increased awareness and the classification of indoor tanning beds as carcinogenic as well as a 10 percent excise tax that exists nationwide.

"Physicians can also play a role through behavioral counseling, which is recommended for fair-skinned persons aged 10 to 24 years," write the researchers. "Continued surveillance of indoor tanning will aid program planning and evaluation by measuring the effect of skin cancer prevention policies and monitoring progress."