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Does watching reality TV lead to skin cancer? Maybe

STUDENTS who watch reality television beauty shows are at least twice as likely as non-viewers to use tanning lamps or tan outdoors for hours at a time.

The findings, which appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, doesn't prove that simply watching shows such as America's Next Top Model and Toddlers & Tiaras drives people to the tanning booths, researchers said.

But it does suggest the shows aren't promoting the healthiest views on tanning, which has been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer -- especially among young people.

"TV shows might not realise the message they're (promoting) by having all of these attractive, tanned people," said study co-author Joshua Fogel, a health policy researcher at Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York system.


For skin specialists and primary care doctors, he added, "it's worth asking younger patients if they do use tanning lamps and outdoor tanning, especially those that watch reality TV shows."

The findings were based on surveys of 576 college students who were in their early 20s. About 61pc of them watched reality TV beauty shows.

Among them, 13pc had used tanning lamps in the last year and 43pc had tanned outdoors for more than two hours at a time.

In comparison, fewer than 4pc of non-watchers used tanning lamps and 29pc tanned outdoors.

Not surprisingly, women were 10 times more likely to use tanning lamps than men.