Teen girls are still tanning, and they’re tanning alot; this comes as a surprise to some experts, given the warning issued three years ago about the dangers of tanning beds.
In May of 2010, some alarming statistics were released regarding tanning beds and melanoma skin cancer, the worst case scenario in the dermatological world. A University of Minnesota study led by Deann Lazovich was the most thorough study to date at that time. Factors, such as age that tanning began as well as years and length of exposure were noted. Prior to this study, the direct causal relationship between skin cancer and tanning beds couldn’t be conclusively established.
That changed after the Minnesota study. Lazovich and her team interviewed 1.167 people between ages 25-59 who had been diagnosed with cutaneous melanoma from July 2004-December 2007. Lazovich told Cancer, Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention that the risk of melanoma was increased by 74% with tanning bed use.
But somehow, the message hasn’t had a definitive effect on whether or not teen girls use tanning beds.
Some state officials have intervened; in June 2012 the New York state senate approved a bill banning girls 16 and under from using tanning beds. At that time, 31 other states began to formulate similar bans to bring before their state legislatures. California bans tanning beds for all minors under 18.
In August of 2010, the National Cancer Institute announced that in the last three decades, the percentage of people who develop melanoma skin cancer more than doubled.
Women who use or have used tanning beds in the past should be diligent in checking their skin for unusual changes. The NCI website has pictures of what the agency deems the ABC’s of Melanoma:
- A – Asymmetrical mole — the shape of one half does not match the other
- B – Border — edges are often irregular and ragged
- C – Color — colors inside the mole are uneven
- D – Diameter — there is an increase in size. Melanomas are typically larger than a pencil eraser
In addition to tanning bed usage, other risk factors for melanoma are a high number of moles (defined as over 50), fair skin, family history of the disease, a weakened immune system, and a history of severe, blistering sunburns.