Pediatricians Call for Tanning Bed Ban for Teens and Children

A group of pediatricians is calling for teens and children to be banned from tanning salons, due to the risk of skin cancer from tanning beds. It is also calling for pediatricians to better emphasize the risk associated with over exposure to ultraviolet radiation. 

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) released a policy statement Monday on ultraviolet radiation, which calls for federal, state and local governments to bar minors from using tanning beds because of rising rates of skin cancer, including melanoma, among young people.

The AAP’s policy statement, printed in the medical journal Pediatrics, says that nearly a quarter of all non-Hispanic white teenagers in the U.S. have used a tanning salon at least once.

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The call for a ban comes nearly a year after an FDA advisory committee made similar recommendations; calling for either an outright tanning bed ban for everyone under 18 or requiring parental consent.

Recent years have seen growing evidence linking tanning bed use to skin cancer. Some studies have shown that the use of tanning beds by young adults results in eight times the risk of developing melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer once found mainly in the elderly, but which has increasingly become a problem for younger adults.

The American Cancer Society says that melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. Less dangerous, but more common, basal and squamous cell carcinomas affect more than one million Americans each year and cause about 2,000 deaths annually.

One of the studies was by the World Health Organization in July 2009, which indicated that use of tanning beds before the age of 30 increases the risk of skin cancer by 75%. As a result of the study, WHO reclassified ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds as a definite carcinogen . Previously, they were considered “probable” carcinogens.

The FDA reports that a growing number of children are counted among the ranks of tanning bed users, with nearly 10% going to indoor tanning businesses in 1999. The report also expresses concerns by some researchers that as many as 95% of indoor tanning customers are exceeding the recommended safe time in tanning beds.

In addition to calls for a ban, the AAP urged pediatricians to better educate young people and parents on the risks of ultraviolet radiation overexposure and to help reinforce good skin protective measures into adulthood. The AAP also called on its members to use incidents of skin burn as “teachable moments.”


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