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Ban Teens from Tanning Beds

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Sunlight is one of God’s special blessings. It is essential for vitamin D synthesis in the skin. But too much sun can also harm the skin. Hazards related to excessive UV exposure from tanning beds are outlined in a 30-page technical report just published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In the United States, a million people visit tanning salons every day. Many clients are teenagers, especially females. One national survey revealed that as many as 35% of 17-year-old girls use a tanning bed.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning beds can damage the skin in several ways. The most serious result of excess UV exposure is malignant melanoma, which is often deadly if not discovered early. Two frequencies of UV radiation affect humans: UVA and UVB. More than 2 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year.  

Tanning beds primarily emit UVA radiation. The intensity of UVA radiation produced by tanning beds may be 10 to 15 times higher than sunshine at high noon. Frequent indoor tanners may receive up to 5 times the yearly dose of UVA than they would receive from ordinary exposure to the sunlight.

Using tanning beds before age 35 is especially harmful to your skin and the results of several studies show that the result is a 75% increase in the risk of melanoma. What should we do about it?

The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Dermatology all support legislation to ban the use of tanning beds under age 18.  A similar law was passed in France in 1997. Currently, 60% of US states regulate tanning facilities for minors and during the 2010 legislative session, 20 more states introduced similar bills.

Sunshine in moderation is great for vitamin D levels, but using tanning beds is a waste of money and increases the risk of skin cancers.

Author

Dr. Adams is a graduate of Loma Linda University School of Medicine. His MPH is from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Adams is retired from the position of Medical Director of Tarrant County Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas. He is the developer of the Best Weigh nutrition and weight loss program. He is also the author of the Handbook of Health Evangelism and Jesus Was Thin: So You Can Be Thin Too.