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Say No to Tanning Beds!

I have previously discussed the importance of sunscreen but it is equally important to discuss the risk of artificial tanning and the use of tanning beds. I have emphasized that...

I have previously discussed the importance of sunscreen but it is equally important to discuss the risk of artificial tanning and the use of tanning beds. I have emphasized that it is never too young to start using sunscreen, but for some reason teens think that tanning beds are a safe way to tan rather than going outside in the sun.

Not so.....tanning beds are using UVA radiation which can cause mutations in your DNA which can then lead to skin cancers. Dermatologists are seeing an increase in young women (who are more likely to use tanning booths) in their mid to late 20’s with  the deadliest form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. Many of these women admit to frequent tanning during their teen age years.

Malignant melanoma is different than basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma,  the other more common forms of skin cancer. Malignant melanoma may spread rapidly to internal organs and lymph nodes, and if not detected at an early stage,  may be fatal within months to years.

Young girls need to understand the risks of using a tanning bed and should be encourage to use a spray tan or a tan towel to achieve the “glow” that they are wanting. They need to understand the risks that are proven to be associated with tanning bed use. Many teens and young adults are using tanning beds that are provided at their dorms or apartments as well.

If there is a family history of melanoma or unusual moles then the risk may be greater to develop an atypical mole. Those young adults who have tanned need to be followed by a dermatologist who can examine their body head to toe and “map” their moles and identify any unusual moles. At the same time they may be educated as to how to follow their own moles and changes they should be aware of.  Do you know that melanomas may arise anywhere on the body, not only the sun exposed area!

Recent articles have shown that tanning beds may be associated with an increase in non melanoma skin cancers as well. While these lesions may take longer to develop, teens and young adults need to be aware of this risk as well.

The state of California has become quite progressive in advocating for the safety of children and their skin.  California recently passed a law that children under the age of 18 may no longer use tanning beds. Other states are looking at similar legislation. Makes sense to me!

So....... no suntanning and no tanning beds. Rub, wipe or spray on your tan or enjoy beautiful fair skin. Not only is it safer, you don’t have to worry about wrinkles later in life (trust me on this issue!)

That's your daily dose for today.  We'll chat again tomorrow.

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About Sue Hubbard, M.D.

Dr. Sue Hubbard is an award winning pediatrician and medical editor for www.kidsdr.com.  She is a native of Washington, D.C. who travelled south to attend the University of Texas at Austin and never left.Read More

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