Earlier this week, cancer experts concluded tanning beds are as deadly as arsenic or mustard gas, and said people who begin using the ultraviolet radiation beds before age 30 up their skin cancer risk by 75 percent. After analyzing about 20 studies, scientists moved tanning beds and other forms of ultraviolet radiation from their list of probable carcinogens to the top risk category of “definite causes of cancer.”
When I was a teenager, several of my friends regularly used tanning beds to jump-start or extend tans they achieved from lying out in the summer sun. My skin is so fair that I simply burn and peel without zinc oxide or a minimum of SPF 50. Any color I may have is simply the explosion of freckles brought out by the sun. Like an impressionist painting, I may appear a little darker from a distance, but up close, my “tan” is really just a bunch of dots. Even so, I remember being tempted to try to get a deep tan like my friends.
I never did use a tanning bed back in the late 80s, and I also just assumed the number of tanning bed users had waned as the market of self-tan creams and bronzers grew. However, the scientists found that doctors are diagnosing more and more young people with skin cancer as the number of people under 30 using the beds has grown.
“In Britain, melanoma, the deadliest kind of skin cancer, is now the leading cancer diagnosed in women in their 20s,” the article states. “Normally, skin cancer rates are highest in people over 75.”
My children suffer the same fair skin I do, so they have never known a life without copious amounts of sun block. They are not teens either, and have never really expressed an interest in getting a tan. I don’t know if their attitude toward tanning will change in a few years – even though their ability to do anything but burn won’t change.
Are your teens tanning? Have they ever asked to use a tanning bed? Did you – or do you now – use a tanning bed? Given that tanning and tanning beds have long been listed as “probable carcinogens”, do you think the latest designation as “definite cause of cancer” will change anyone’s mind about using a tanning bed or getting a natural savage tan? Do you think the new label will affect your teen or young adult’s decision to use one?