Tanning with Mom

Uber-tan New Jersey mom Patricia Krentcil set off a national uproar in April when she was accused of taking her five-year-old daughter into a tanning booth with her. Krentcil denied all charges, saying her daughter stayed outside the booth, but whether or not her daughter baked alongside her, Krentcil’s behavior set an unhealthy precedent: a 2010 study in the Archives of Dermatology showed that children of women who tan indoors are more likely to be indoor tanners themselves. Young women whose first indoor ultraviolet (UV) tanning experience was with their mothers are 4.6 times more likely to become heavy tanners — putting their health at risk. Let us count the ways: 

• Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.

• People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

• Ten minutes in a sunbed matches the cancer-causing effects of 10 minutes in the Mediterranean summer sun.

• Frequent tanners using new high-pressure sunlamps may receive as much as 12 times the annual UVA dose compared to the dose they receive from sun exposure.

Nearly 30 million people tan indoors in the U.S. every year; 2.3 million of them are teens. Between 1973 and 2001, melanoma incidence in those under age 20 rose 2.9 percent. So moms, if you’re thinking of following Patricia Krentcil’s example, don’t.

Published on June 18, 2012