2 Lies That Can Cause Your Child to Develop Skin Cancer in Their Twenties
Recently published research from a medical study shows that over half of the tanning salons surveyed in a Midwestern state not only allows children ages 10 to 12 years old to use their tanning beds, but also promotes two lies that can cause a child to develop the skin cancer melanoma by the time he or she reaches their twenties.
An article published in the medical journal Pediatrics reports this disturbing finding from a survey given to 243 tanning-facility operators in the state of Missouri—one of 17 states where there are no minimum tanning bed use restrictions or requirement for parental consent.
Furthermore, many of these tanning salons were discovered to be perpetuating two lies that would influence a child’s and his or her parent’s opinion on the safety of using a tanning facility:
(1) That building a tan will prevent future sunburns and thereby lessen their risk of skin cancer.
(2) That there are no associated risks with indoor tanning
According to a press release issued by Washington University, study co-author Lynn Cornelius, M.D., chief of the Division of Dermatology states that, "This should serve as a wake-up call for parents in Missouri and other states that don't regulate tanning beds," says Dr. Cornelius. "With the absence of logical age restrictions, we are failing to protect our children, who are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer when exposed to the high-intensity levels of ultraviolet light that can be received in a tanning bed."
Of an identified 831 indoor tanning facilities in Missouri, 375 were randomly selected for data collection using surveys and interviews. Of the 375 selected, 243 provided completed data that was used in the study’s analysis. What the researchers gleaned from the data was that on average:
• 65% of the 243 tanning-facility operators would allow children as young as 10 or 12 years old to use indoor-tanning devices.
• 80% claimed that indoor tanning would prevent future sunburns.
• 43% claimed that there were no risks associated with indoor tanning.
This is in spite of growing evidence that there is increasing evidence that UV radiation exposure from indoor-tanning devices is associated with skin cancer, ocular damage, and premature photo-aging, of which customers should be cautioned about according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s guidelines on tanning beds.
Other reports of the dangers of UV radiation from tanning beds state that users are 75% more likely to develop melanoma than nonusers. The risk of development of non-melanoma skin cancers―such as squamous and basal cell carcinomas―increases by 2.5 times in users of tanning beds.
According to the press release, Dr. Cornelius sees the results of indoor tanning bed skin damage in young female patients with a history of tanning bed use―many of who could develop melanoma as early as their 20s.
"Indoor tanning may seem innocuous at first," she says. "Due to what is called 'tumor lag time,' or the time between an exposure to a carcinogen such as ultraviolet and the development of a cancer. It may take a decade or longer for someone who has been exposed to artificial ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds to develop a skin cancer."
The conclusion of the study is that despite studied health risks associated with tanning facilities, of those surveyed in Missouri, customers were often misinformed regarding the risks and the lack of proven health benefits from indoor tanning.
Reference: “Practices of Unregulated Tanning Facilities in Missouri: Implications for Statewide Legislation” Pediatrics (Published online February 25, 2013); Brundha Balaraman, M.D. et al.