Happy New Year. Here we are in January, the dead of winter (the current warm weather notwithstanding). So naturally my thoughts turn to…suntanning.
The Food and Drug Administration(FDA) has proposed banning children under 18 from patronizing tanning salons. I strongly support this idea, of course. According the Melanoma Foundation, 2.5 million teens use tanning salons, including 35% of girls under aged 17 (some as early as 13). The World Health Organization has determined that UV rays from tanning beds cause skin cancer, that the risk is greater for individuals who use them earlier than age 35, and that the risk multiplies with increased exposures. Please note that tanning beds deliver 15 times the UV light to the skin compared to the sun.
Melanoma in white women under 44 years old is increasing 6.1% annually, probably due to increased indoor tanning practices. It is the most common cancer in people aged 25-29 and second most common in ages 15-29. Since 1973 its incidence has increased by 61% in males and more than double in females(again, greater indoor tanning frequency).
Note that not burning is no protection against the UV risks above, simple exposure is all it takes. So my advise to parents is, irrespective of whatever the FDA decides, do whatever you can to discourage your teens from too much sun exposure generally and avoid indoor tanning specifically. Especially with my adolescent girls, I try to point out the older people they may see with tanned, leathered faces from sun worshipping and remind them that all of us are in a race with an old and wrinkled person. None of us will win that race in the long run but we can stay in it longer–stay young and fresh faced–if we protect our skin from the aging effects of the sun and UV light.
Ultimately, of course, we want these young women to truly be comfortable in their own skin. Winter or summer, they don’t need to be tanned to be beautiful or popular.
Send along questions or comments, and thanks for following.