Gery P. Guy Jr. of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and colleagues, said the incidence of skin cancers, both non-melanoma and melanoma, is increasing in the United States, but ultraviolet light exposure, such as indoor tanning, is a preventable risk factor for skin cancer.
Reducing exposure to artificial UV light, especially among adolescents, is a way to decrease skin cancer, Guy said.
Researchers used data from the 2009 and 2011 national Youth Risk Behavior Surveys, which represents 15.5 million U.S. high school students. The authors' analysis included 25,861 students who answered a question about indoor tanning, as well as measuring other health-related behaviors including smoking, sex, steroid use and suicide attempts.
The study, published in the journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology, found an estimated 13.3 percent of U.S. high school students reported engaging in indoor tanning in 2011, and indoor tanning was associated with an increase in binge drinking, unhealthy weight control practices and sex.
Among girls, indoor tanning also was associated with illegal drug use and having sex with four or more partners.
Among boys, indoor tanning was associated with the use of non-prescribed steroids, daily cigarette use and attempted suicide, the study said.
"Public health efforts are needed to change social norms regarding tanned skin and to increase awareness, knowledge, and behaviors related to indoor tanning," the study authors wrote in the study.