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Use of fake tanning lotions in the South Australian population.

OBJECTIVE: To explore the relationship between the use of fake tanning lotions and repeated sunburn among South Australian adults, with a view to informing the Anti-Cancer Foundation of South Australia's (ACFSA) policy on fake tanning products.

STUDY DESIGN: Population survey.

PARTICIPANTS: 2005 South Australians aged 18 years or older, selected randomly from the electronic White Pages.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Self-reported use of fake tanning lotions in the past 12 months; frequency of sunburn over summer; and various sun-protective behaviours.

RESULTS: 2,005 of the 2,536 eligible participants (79%) were surveyed by telephone. Fake tan use was most prevalent among women (15.9%), people aged 18-24 years (15.4%), and people with household incomes above $40 000 per year (11.9%). Fake tan users were more likely than non-users to use sunscreens (81.3% v 56.5%; P < 0.001), but less likely to take other precautions such as wearing hats (40.9% v 51.0%; P = 0.04) and protective clothing (22.3% v 34.1%; P = 0.005). They were also more likely to report having been burnt more than once over summer (26.2% v 16.5%; P = 0.025). Multivariate analysis indicates a statistically significant association between fake tan use and repeated sunburn (odds ratio, 2.07; 95% confidence interval, 1.17-3.69), which was independent of age, sex, skin type and sun-protection practices.

CONCLUSION: Users of fake tanning products may be at greater risk of repeated sunburn. The ACFSA sees no justification at this stage for altering its present policy position of not actively promoting the use of fake tanning lotions as a means of reducing sunburn.

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