The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a professional association of 60,000 pediatricians, recently called for all US tanning salons to bar minors. With this new policy statement, the AAP joins health organizations such as the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Academy of Dermatology, and The Skin Cancer Foundation in demanding a ban on indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning for young people.
We strongly commend the AAP for this definitive statement urging the prohibition of indoor tanning for young people. The damage caused by the UV radiation from tanning beds and the sun is cumulative and often irreversible, and the earlier people start to tan, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes.
The AAP’s statement is timely. In this issue of Sun & Skin News, we report on a disturbing new study about young women’s indoor tanning habits. Those whose first indoor tanning experience is with their mothers are almost 5 times more likely to be heavy tanners than those who first tanned indoors alone or with someone other than their mother.
If you are a young tanner — or the parent or guardian of one — be aware that those who first use tanning beds before age 35 have a 75 percent increase in their lifetime risk of developing melanoma, which killed an estimated 8,700 people in the US in 2010 alone. On average, indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
As the warmer weather comes on, don’t be misled into thinking that obtaining a “base tan” in tanning booths will protect your skin against damage outdoors. All UV tanning is dangerous; a tan indicates that the skin’s DNA has already been damaged. Enjoy spring the sun-safe way, by following The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Prevention Guidelines (http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines), including avoiding UV tanning, both indoors and out. For more information on tanning, please visit http://www.skincancer.org/prevention/tanning.