Two out of three teens think they look better with a tan. Unfortunately, UV rays emitted by tanning beds and the sun cause premature aging and wrinkles and are linked to development of squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma.
It is a common misconception that tanning beds are a safe alternative to sunbathing. Tanning beds are as dangerous as exposure to the sun. In fact many tanning beds have the capacity to emit levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation many times stronger than the mid-day summer sun.
Research supports the link between tanning and skin cancer. A recent review of research showed that men and women who have ever used tanning beds were 15 percent more likely to develop melanoma, and 75 percent more likely to develop melanoma if they used tanning beds before they were 35.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledge that all types of tanning are dangerous. The WHO recommends that “no person under the age of 18 should use a tanning bed” and discourages people from intentionally tanning in the sun. Twenty-six states have enacted legislation restricting access to tanning beds by minors.
Springtime is a good time to educate students about the dangers of tanning, both outside and at tanning salons. As the weather warms, many students choose to visit tanning salons before prom or spring break. Remind them that practicing sun safety can help prevent wrinkles, age spots and, most importantly, skin cancer. Make it clear that there is no such thing as a safe tan.
Fortunately for students who insist on looking tan, there are safe alternatives to UV tanning. Many salons now offer spray-on tanning that provides a safe alternative to UV rays. Also, self-tanning lotions are inexpensive and widely available in most grocery and drug stores.
Indoor Tanning Association Settles FTC Charges That It Deceived Consumers About Skin Cancer Risks From Tanning
Misleading advertising by the indoor tanning industry and its potential skin cancer risks led the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to look into the industry's practices more closely. To find out about the FTC findings, click here to read the report.
Use these handouts to help spread the word to students about the dangers of tanning.