For years, tanning beds have been the go-to source to get sun-kissed skin. Unfortunately, tanning beds are also a major source of cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. In fact, research has shown that those who go to tanning salons before that age of 35 increase their chances of developing melanoma by a huge 75%. Melanoma is the deadliest type of skin cancer. Over 8,000 Americans die from the disease every year and UV rays have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a group one carcinogen, along with tobacco and plutonium.
Now the American Academy of Pediatrics has joined forces with the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Dermatology to push for a ban that will prohibit minors from using tanning salons. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are more tanning salons in the U.S. than Starbucks or even McDonalds, and surveys have shown that almost 25% of Caucasian teenagers in the US have used a tanning facility at least once, with many making regular visits.
Even despite these findings and warnings, laws in numerous states requiring parental permission for minors to use a tanning salon haven't made a difference in the number of teens accessing them. This is due in large part to the myths surrounding tanning salons. The Indoor Tanning Association is working hard to convince us all that tanning is healthy, but can they be trusted?
Common Myths About Tanning Salons
- Tanning beds are safer than regular sunlight. According to the Mayo Clinic, tanning beds are not a safer alternative to tanning outdoors. Either way, you are exposed to ultraviolet radiation that damages the skin and can cause cancer as well as premature aging of the skin.
- Moderate tanning is fine and good for you. Tanning salon supporters would have you believe that a moderate amount of tanning is not only safe, but healthy, claiming it boosts your vitamin D levels. However, a recent study suggests that the ultraviolet A that most tanning devices emit is relatively ineffective in stimulating vitamin D production in the body. And you are still most definitely at risk for cancer.
- Skin cancer is easily curable. Melanoma is about 88 percent curable for cases if caught early. This rate drops to 58 percent if the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and down to 13 percent if it spreads further throughout the body. There is always the risk of cancer coming back.
The fact is that no one should tan, whether in a salon or outside. Children and teenagers are more strongly influenced by peers, Hollywood and an "it won't happen to me" philosophy, than they are by doctor's advice and research studies. So it is up to you. If your children want to use a tanning salon, teach them about the risks. And until this ban is enacted, don't let them go, no matter how much they beg.