Photo by Tristanb at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

(Reuters Health) - Women who use indoor tanning salons are more likely to have mood or body issues than the average person, suggests new research.

Compared to the general population, women who reported tanning at least 10 times in the last year were more likely to be obsessed with real or imaginary flaws in their appearance, to have episodes of depression related to changes in seasons and to have high stress levels.

"It may be the case in clinical settings that when we see people who do a lot of tanning, it may be a flag to look at other mental health issues," said senior author Sherry Pagoto of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester.

People should be cautious about interpreting the results, which are drawn from only 74 people, said Erin Bonar, who was not involved in the new research but has studied the mental health of people who tan.

"I would be cautious with regard to the findings of co-morbidity since these participants were not formally diagnosed," said Bonar, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

But the new findings are consistent with previous results, she said.

Pagoto said the new study suggests tanning may be a sign of a much deeper problem that requires more attention.

"For parents who have teenage and college-age daughters who tan, this may be something to think about," she said.