29 Mar No Protection When it Comes to Tanning Beds
Despite dramatic late March snow across large parts of the country, the calendar says it all –spring is here, with summer approaching quickly.
In central Oklahoma the spring bulbs have bloomed and the flowering trees are past visual prime. With sun drenched days ahead I am unlikely to cease my pleas to protect oneself from sun and avoid midday sun. Moreover, it goes without saying, regardless of season, that you must always completely avoid tanning beds.
Today let’s put aside praise of the wonders of the PicoSure laser Focus Lens Array, tattoo removal, and winter eczema. Instead, let’s consider the findings of a frightening new study on the use of tanning beds and the development of the killer melanoma.
A newly published study has shown that women under age 50 who regularly tan are up to 6 times more likely to develop malignant melanoma than the age-matched non-user population. Women younger than 40 at the time of their melanoma diagnosis started tanning indoors at a median age of 16 years old compared with those in the 40-50 year age range who started indoor tanning at a median age of 25. Those who began indoor tanning in their teens had a six fold higher incidence of developing melanoma compared to non-tanners.
Nearly all women who developed melanoma before age 30 reported tanning more than 10 times. Women 30-50 years were three to four times more likely to develop melanoma if they engaged in indoor tanning more than 10 times.
While the rate of developing melanoma are rising in both younger men and women, incident rates are sharply higher in women than in men younger than 50. Amassed evidence indicates that indoor tanning is a prime factor between the divergent rates of development of melanoma in men and women younger than 50. Reducing exposure to UV radiation from all forms of indoor tanning is an important strategy in the prevention of melanoma.
In December 2015 the FDA announced plans to prohibit indoor tanning of minors and restrict sales of sunlamps to individuals 18 and older. Currently 25 states prohibit some or all minors from indoor tanning. An additional 17 states require parental consent or accompaniment.
In Oklahoma there are no restrictions for indoor tanning for minors. I call upon the dermatological community to pressure the Oklahoma state legislature to correct this deficit in public health policy.