With Hawaii recently becoming the tenth state to ban indoor tanning use for minors, the debate continues to rage regarding the dangers of tanning beds and whether or not minors should be using them. With all the heat this subject is getting, I’d like to cut through the fluff, and give you the facts from trustworthy sources. Here’s what you should know before letting little Susie get a “base tan” before that upcoming family vacation:
- UV Radiation is a cancer-causing substance. The United States Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization have declared ultraviolet radiation from artificial sources, such as tanning beds, as a known carcinogen –Would you sign a permission slip for your 15 year old to smoke a cigarette daily? I hope your answer is NO.
- Children and teens who use tanning beds are likely to experience sunburn. In a survey of adolescent tanning bed users, 58 percent reported burns due to indoor tanning bed exposure. UV exposure and severe sunburn during childhood and teenage years is a major risk factor for Melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer).
- Additional risk factors for Melanoma include fair skin, freckles, moles and a family history of melanoma. If your child has beautiful pale skin, and charming freckles on her face, she may want to try indoor tanning to change this (thank society and the well believed myth that tan = beauty for this. Check out our Pinterest Board “Pale Skin is In” and help us change this misconception!). If she approaches you with a permission slip, assure her she is beautiful just the way she is. If she is still persistent after you dump on the compliments, try giving her a taste of her own (superficial) medicine and appeal to her vanity (a study using high school aged subjects found that appearance-based education was more of a driving force to practice sun safety than fear of developing skin cancer). Inform her that while tanning indoors will give her a tan that will eventually fade, the premature aging, wrinkles, and sun spots that result from tanning will likely be permanent. This should send her running for the sunscreen and UV protective clothing!
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