You might consider a tanning bed as your ticket to a perfect winter body, but overexposure to any form of ultraviolet (UV) light during your teens and in young adulthood can greatly increase your chances of getting skin cancer later in life. In fact, the increased risk of melanoma associated with tanning bed use is 59% for people whose first exposure to artificial UV rays in a tanning bed occurred before age 35 years. That risk increases with the number of tanning bed sessions per year. Because of these serious risks, policymakers in most states are cracking down on the use of tanning beds by minors.
Regulating Risk: Most States Are Taking Action
Although specific tanning bed regulations differ among states, there’s a serious nation-wide movement against allowing minors access to dangerous indoor tanning. At least 41 states have passed some type of legislation that regulates minors using tanning beds. Some areas make policies at the county or city level, including Howard County, Maryland; Danvers, Massachusetts; and Chicago, Illinois. Vermont, Oregon, Minnesota, California, Delaware, Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, and Oregon ban the use of tanning facilities by anyone under 18 years of age state-wide. Since both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers are common, and both are linked to UV light and sun exposure, enacting measures that discourage the use of indoor tanning devices could potentially prevent a significant number of cases.
The Melanoma Foundation of New England will be represented in DC this March to help testify in support of tanning legislation. The event, known as the Melanoma Research Foundation’s Day on the Hill, has been organized by the Melanoma Research Center. You can learn more here.
It’s OK to Wear White in Winter
When someone mentions skin cancer risk due to sun exposure, baking on the beach in summer is generally what comes to mind. Unfortunately, once summer is over, many people, especially young females, turn to indoor tanning to maintain their deep summer tans. A dramatic uptick in tanning bed use occurs in the winter months. The younger you are, the more danger you face, but the use of tanning beds doesn’t just raise your cancer risk; it can also cause signs of premature aging. UV rays can also cause irreversible eye damage, and they can even suppress your immune function and leave you vulnerable to a number of diseases, including various types of cancer. Don’t become a skin cancer statistic. Embrace your light-colored, healthy skin, and live to enjoy more summers instead of taking on the golden hue of serious cell damage.
Now’s the Time to Take Action and Be Part of the Solution
Your Skin Is In is an educational, pledge-based program and contest that encourages teens and young adults to make a personal promise that they will protect the skin they’re in. Over the past 8 years, MFNE has traveled all over New England, exposing over 100,000 students to this educational program. Get started by pledging here.
If You Have Questions About Tanning and Melanoma Risk, We Can Help
At the Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE), we provide a variety of educational programs that focus on early detection and treatment of skin cancer in people of all ages. Head over to our main page for more skin cancer facts, support groups, and free one-on-one patient advocacy services.