California recently became the first state to ban those under 18 from using tanning salons because of connection between tanning beds and skin cancer. While awaiting FDA regulations on teens and tanning, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure prohibiting tanning salons from allowing anyone under 18 to use tanning beds, regardless of parental approval. Georgia hasn’t banned the use of tanning beds for those under 18, but it is one of the states that requires in-person, parental permission for anyone under 18 to tan in a tanning bed.
According to stats from the National Cancer Institute up to 35% of 17-year-old girls will use a tanning bed to maintain their summer glow. Other studies have indicated that tanners, especially young girls, can exhibit behaviors demonstrating an addiction to indoor tanning. Additionally, tanning beds use activity that exposes humans to some of the highest levels of carcinogens to humans, increasing the risk of developing melanoma by 75%. Tanning beds utilize concentrated ultraviolet light which can cause sunburn and speed up the skin’s aging process and increase the risk of deadly skin cancer. Those who tan indoors are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.
In fact, a recent article published in Skin & Allergy News links the spike in current melanoma cases amongst women aged 25 to 34 to the use of tanning beds during their teens in the 1990s. One dermatologist said that almost all of his melanoma patients admitted to using a tanning bed at some point in their past.
At Dermatology Associates of Atlanta, we encourage our patients to avoid unprotected sun exposure including the use of tanning beds. For those who may not have adhered to this rule in the past, we perform annual skin cancer screenings to ensure no cancer is present, and identify any pre-cancers (actinic keratosis), to begin skin cancer treatment plans if necessary.
Skin cancer treatments like photodynamic therapy which destroys cancerous tissue, topical chemotherapy for basal cell carcinomas, cryosurgery to freeze and eliminate abnormal tissue, and Mohs skin cancer surgery to remove the cancerous tissue layer by layer, are all available at Dermatology Associates of Atlanta. Depending on the patient and type of skin cancer, some laser treatments from our Laser Institute of Georgia may also be used instead of cryosurgery.