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Watching reality television beauty shows may increase risk of harmful skin cancer

Clinical Question:
Can watching reality television beauty shows increase the risk of harmful skin cancer?

Bottom Line:
Among college students, watching reality television beauty shows is significantly associated with increased tanning lamp use and outdoor tanning. This is especially true of female students and Whites. (LOE = 4)

Fogel J, Krausz F. Watching reality television beauty shows is associated with tanning lamp use and outdoor tanning among college students. J Am Acad Dermatology 2013;68(5):784-789.  [PMID:23261546]

Study Design:

Self-funded or unfunded


Excessive ultraviolet radiation exposure from natural sunlight or tanning lamps increases the risk of skin cancer. These investigators surveyed 642 college students (mean age = 23 years) at an inner-city college in Brooklyn, NY, regarding indoor and outdoor ultraviolet radiation exposure and whether they regularly watched reality television beauty shows. Complete surveys were returned by 94.2% of the participants. The study group was composed of an approximately equal percentage of men and women and more than half the participants were of a non-White race/ethnicity. Individuals who reported watching reality television beauty shows were significantly more likely to use tanning lamps (12.9% vs 3.7%; number needed to treat [NNT] = 11) and regularly tan outdoors (43.3% vs 28.7%; NNT = 7). Women were especially vulnerable, as shown by more than 10 times greater odds compared with men for the use of tanning lamps. Hispanics, Asians, and others were significantly less likely to succumb to the use of tanning lamps compared with Whites.


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