Teens: Tan at your own risk?
It has been reported that neighborhood tanning salons, on average, outnumber Starbucks and McDonald’s, according to of the American Academy of Dermatology.
But that’s not the scariest statistic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the dangers of using tanning beds are greater for younger people. Specifically those who begin tanning younger than age 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma.
It’s no wonder then that health advocates are crying foul about the lack of legislation regarding tanning beds. An article published in the March journal of Pediatrics addressed the issue and urged government regulators to take action to protect the nation’s youth with new laws that restrict the use of “artificial tanning devices,” especially since they’re linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.
“There is no federal law and few state laws to protect our youth from the harmful, and possibly deadly, effects of tanning beds, which can emit up to 15 times as much UV-A radiation as the midday sun,” said Dr. Sophie Balk, lead author on the article, in a statement.
“We place age restrictions on the use of tobacco and alcohol, and it’s time to take action against indoor tanning before more people die from tanning-related skin cancer,” said Dr. Balk, an attending pediatrician at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in Bronx, N.Y.
Currently, no federal age restrictions exist for minors’ use of tanning beds so it’s up to each state to determine these regulations. California and Vermont have banned minors younger than 18 from tanning bed use, and some states have no legislation.
Illinois proposed a law in February prohibiting minors 17 and younger from using tanning beds, and certain cities, such as Springfield, ban users younger than age 14 from tanning salons. As the Illinois law stands now, minors must get their parents’ permission to use indoor tanning salons.
“I encourage pediatricians to begin tanning discussions with parents and children beginning at the 12-year-old well-child visit,” Dr. Balk said. “Taking a proactive approach and teaching teens to “love the skin you’re in” is one of the best lines of defense against skin cancer.”
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