Support grows for banning teenagers from indoor tanning salons

teenagers tanning beds

Pediatric and dermatology groups say melanoma is the most common skin cancer in children. Image: wrestlingentropy/Flickr

Tanning teenagers are especially vulnerable to skin cancer, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Numerous studies have linked an increased risk of skin cancer with tanning bed use at a young age. U.S. pediatric and dermatology groups are calling for legislation banning teenagers from using indoor tanning devices.

Tanning teenagers and skin cancer

In a policy statement on ultraviolet radiation, the American Academy of Pediatrics said indoor tanning should be off limits to teenagers because of increased skin cancer risk. The statement, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, called for pediatricians to push for legislation banning access to indoor tanning for those 18 and younger. An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration on tanning bed risks has also recommended either banning the use of tanning beds by minors outright or requiring parental consent. The AAP implored parents to educate their kids about UV protection, especially those who freckle or sunburn easily or have descendants with a history of melanoma.

Teenage tanning bed risks

More than 1 million people use indoor tanning salons in the U.S., according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Nearly 70 percent of tanning bed users are women and girls from 16 to 29 years old. In a news release the ASDS said that melanoma is the most common skin cancer in children, followed by basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas. Just six severe sunburns in a lifetime increases the risk of melanoma by 50 percent. The AAP said about 35 percent of 17-year-old girls use tanning beds that produce UV radiation 10 to 15 times more intense than the sun at noon. Seven different studies found an increase in the risk of melanoma from indoor tanning before age 35.

Teenage tanning bed bans

The FDA is not bound to act on the recommendations of its advisory panels about teens, tanning and cancer. But the agency forms such panels to support regulatory decisions and usually heeds their advice. Currently, more than 60 percent of states in the U.S. regulate indoor tanning use by minors. The Indoor Tanning Association insists no scientific evidence links teenage tanning to skin cancer and said banning teens from tanning is for parents, not the government to decide.


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