Atta girl, California. This week Governor Brown signed a law making it illegal for children under age 18 to use tanning beds. No doctor note, no parent note, or any other paperwork necessary. It’s a real ban and it’s the strictest law in our nation. While 30 some other states have laws limiting indoor tanning use by minors, no other state has banned the use of indoor tanning for minors entirely. Although many professional groups have urged for a tanning bed ban, it has taken some time to get this trend started. Only 49 states to go.
I see patients in clinic nearly every week who visit indoor tanning beds. Their parents go sometimes, too. And we know that’s a huge reason some teens start tanning. So why the rule and why the necessary seemingly rigid law? Watch the video above and put it on your Facebook account. Show it to your children or your nieces, nephews, or neighbors. Read my take:
Teens and Tanning:
A study back in 2002 surveyed kids from all 50 states to determine (risky) behaviors increasing the odds of skin cancer. The findings were fairly grim. Over 80% of teens reported having a sunburn in the prior year and over 1/3 of them had experienced 3 or more burns. We know one bad sunburn in childhood dramatically increases the likelihood of a skin cancer later in life. Further, one out of every 4 teen girls between 15 and 18 years of age reported indoor tanning bed use. And worse, as teens get older, they use indoor tanning more: the rate of indoor tanning doubles between age 12 and 17. The reality is, teens won’t prioritize skin health so you may have to help. Some suggest using the argument for preserving beauty (“Sun damage gives you wrinkles”) is more powerful than using the argument for preserving life (“Sun damage may give you a skin cancer that kills you”).
- Thing is, 65% of melanoma skin cancers can be attributed to UV radiation exposure from the sun. Further, we know early excessive sun exposure in life (even at young ages) dramatically increases the likelihood of developing a skin cancer later in life. A burn early in life can have lasting effects.
- Using a tanning bed increases your risk for developing a melanoma by 75% in one study. Although other organizations like the WHO quote a one time tanning bed-use as a 15% increase risk of developing a melanoma. A 15% increase risk of getting a cancer with one 30-minute activity! Tell your teen.
- Over 2 million teens use indoor tanning in the US every year.
- Consequently, melanoma rates are rising here, increasing each and every year since 1992 when I left high school. Young, white women are leading the charge for the increase in our numbers. Although melanoma is only the 5th most common cancer, it is by far the deadliest.
- The UVA radiation from at tanning bed is 10-15 times stronger than that from the sun in the middle of the day! UV radiation (UVR) is harmful because damages skin and evidence supports a strong causal relationship between sunlight exposure and skin cancer. In particular, there is a heightened risk of melanoma for those with increased childhood sun-exposure. UVR is made up of UVA and UVB waves of light. Remember this: UVB light is the light that Burns, and UVA light is the light that causes your skin to Age (wrinkle).
You don’t have to live in California to live the good life. Make your home a little more California today. Ban indoor-tanning for your children forever.