A summer tan. Is it worth it?
Melanoma: Cancer of young people
We've seen ice and snow in Texas lately, not exactly tanning weather. Teens may be desperate to maintain their summer glow by going to the tanning bed. Here's why they should say no.
It's hard to make young people undertand that today's tan is not worth tomorrow's aged skin, damaged eyes or worse yet ... cancer.
In the state of Texas, it's illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to use an indoor UV tanning facility, even with a parent's permission. But recent studies show that the use of tanning beds can become an obsession and parents need to make sure their child is not finding a way to work around the law.
The dangers of cancer:
- Ultra-violet (UV) light in tanning bed is known to cause cancer.
- Every year, more than 170,000 cases of skin cancer related to indoor tanning are diagnosed.
- One indoor tanning session increases your risk of getting melanoma skin cancer by 20 percent.
- Melanoma is the second most common type of invasive cancer in teens and young adults and is the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30.
- One indoor session increase your riks of getting squamous cell carinoma by 67 percent.
"While all tanning is bad, tanning bed usage exposes people to ultraviolet A rays," said Sandra Peak, M.D., a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville. "UVB rays cause sunburn, but UVA rays penetrate much deeper into the skin."
Other icky health risks may also be found at your local tanning salon, including bacteria that can lead to staph infection. Regular trips to the tanning bed can also change skin texture and cause sunspots, which probably aren't what your teen is after.
So what if your child begs you to go? It's time to talk.
"Parents should sit down and discuss the risks of indoor tanning with their children," Dr. Peak said. "Melanoma has become the cancer of young people."
Instead encourage your children to use a self tanner to get that summer glow, and urge them to always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor of 15 before heading outdoors, even during winter months. Dr. Peak recommends staying away from spray tans, since the chemicals can damage delicate mucus membranes.
Ultraviolet (UV) ray damage is more than skin deep though. Your child's skin and eyesight be at risk:
- The amount of UV light that a tanning bed gives off can be 10-15 times higher than the UV light from the midday sun.
- Excessive exposure to UV radiation during indoor tanning can damage DNA, which can lead to premature skin aging (skin that looks leather) and immune suppersion.
- UV radiation during indoor tanning can also lead to eye damage, including cataracts and ocular melanoma.