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AADA Releases Dermatology Study On Teen Tanning Access

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

This study adds to the mountain of evidence that indoor tanning should be restricted for those under 18. Regardless of the current parental consent and accompaniment restrictions in some states, this study shows young people have alarming access to artificial UV radiation, more than double the FDA’s recommended limit for first-week frequency.

Artificial UV radiation is a known carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) in the same category as cigarettes, as declared by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Just as U.S. law prohibits sales of cigarettes to teenagers, there should be laws that prohibit use of indoor tanning by those under 18.

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Indoor tanning is dangerous for all people, especially young people. Studies have linked artificial UV radiation to a substantially increased risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a common type of skin cancer. IARC conducted a review of seven studies and found a 75% increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, in those who had been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning before the age of 35. Melanoma also is the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common cancer in adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.

Despite all the evidence, only 30 states in the U.S. regulate indoor tanning use by minors, even though the WHO calls for prohibiting minors from indoor tanning because of the danger of developing skin cancer. Estimates show 2.3 million teens still use indoor tanning equipment each year, even though the impact of artificial UV radiation on the skin is well-known.

We are heartened to see that this study shows state and local laws are having some impact. However, without an outright ban for minors, it’s impossible to begin to protect our young people from this cancer-causing behavior. It’s time to enact legislation to save our children from harm.