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The Dangers of Tanning

posted Apr 23, 2015, 10:53 AM by Unknown user

Morgan Drake

It’s prom season once again and selfies of people in tanning beds are popping up all over Instagram. What may seem like an easy way to look sunkissed for your dress is actually deadly. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) states that tanning bed radiation is one of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. Think that’s not too bad? Tanning beds have joined others on the list such as plutonium and certain types of radium.

The IARC report cited research showing that tanning is especially hazardous to young people; those who use sunbeds before age 30 increase their lifetime risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent. The authors also pointed to studies showing a link between UV radiation from indoor tanning devices and melanomas of the skin and eyes. Melanoma will kill an estimated 8,650 people in the US this year alone. And melanoma isn't the only problem: people who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Squamous cell carcinoma kills an estimated 2,500 Americans a year.

The report received widespread publicity from news organizations, and brought attention to a lack of laws and oversight limiting minors' access to UV tanning devices. This lack of controls affects millions of teenagers: A 2003 study found that almost 37 percent of white females and over 11 percent of white males between 13 and 19 years old in the US have used tanning beds. Some states permit children under 14 to tan if they are simply accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In June, Texas drew attention from all over the country when it enacted the strictest tanning law in the nation, banning children under age 16 from indoor tanning and requiring in-person parental consent for everyone under 18. In Delaware, a recently passed law prohibits those under 14 from tanning facilities unless they have a doctor's prescription and requires those under 18 to have a parent or guardian sign a consent form in the presence of a tanning facility operator. Bills pending in Georgia, Hawaii, and Kansas would require the written, in-person consent of a parent or guardian for those under 18. And Minnesota is considering a law that would ban those under 16 from using tanning facilities; this is already the law in Wisconsin.

Keep this in mind next time you slather on tanning oil or hop in a tanning bed. You might regret it later on when you have skin cancer or look like a leather couch...or both.