More and more people are striving to be as tan as possible. This obsession, many believe, is the cause of the rise in skin cancer. Dermatologist around the country are stepping up against the $5 billion a year indoor tanning industry.
Over the past years there has been a push for tanning age restrictions. Since 2003, 19 states have passed laws restricting anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning beds. In the past year such laws have been created in New York and New Jersey. These laws and restrictions are targeted to help teenage girls because they seem to be the largest population who use the tanning salons.
According to The New York Times, organizations such as The World Health Organization, The American Medical Association and The American Academy of Dermatology have compared tanning beds to be as unhealthy as cigarettes.
Nicole Maziarz, a junior graphic design major, had never been to a tanning salon. Maziarz said, “I do sit out side and tan but I haven’t been to a tanning salon because I know that it is worse for you then natural sun.”
In an story written in The New York Times, Dr. James M. Spencer, clinical professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, said, “But we don’t sell cigarettes to minors, and indoor tanning is similar. We know it will cause cancer. Not maybe. Not might. It’s going to cause cancer. No one under 18 should be allowed to use those things.”
Melanoma, the most lethal form of skin cancer, kills approximately 8,000 people a year in the United States. In 2002, the National Toxicology Program stated that broad spectrum ultraviolet rays, either from natural sun rays or sun lamps causes both melanoma and other forms of skin cancer. Some researchers who do not support the idea that tanning beds are directly linked to skin cancer think that the rise in the detection of skin cancer may only be because people are more aware of the possibility of skin cancer, therefore they get more screenings.
The tanning industry claims that 30 million people safely use tanning facilities each year. They use this to combat the allegations made by many dermatologist. While the tanning salons in this country outnumber the dermatologist 60,000 to 8,000, dermatologist are taking a stand to get their voices heard. There are three reasons why dermatologist stand firmly against the tanning industry. The first reason is the rising number of melanoma cases that are being diagnosed. Second, there has been research that shows links between melanoma and sunburning in early years of life. Lastly, tanning salons are becoming increasingly more popular among teenage girls.
Jennifer Sykes, a junior elementary education major, goes to the tanning salon much less these days. Sykes said, “When I was in highschool I abused tanning. Then I learned how dangerous tanning can be so I don’t go tanning nearly as much now.”