First things first, Washington University Dermatologist, Lynn Cornelius, said anyone under 18 years old has no business using a tanning bed. In fact, she really doesn’t like tanning beds at all, and said they’re directly linked to higher rates of skin cancer.
“It’s very similar to smoking,” Cornelius said. “If you look at how the World Health Organization and how they classify artificial light from artificial devices, it is a group one carcinogen, which means it is the same as tobacco smoke.”
Cornelius is the co-author of a larger study that conducted a survey of Missouri tanning bed operators. Researchers called 375 randomly selected tanning salons in the state and asked them the same set of questions.
More than 240 operators completed two interviews and the survey found 65 percent of them would allow children as young as 10 years old to use a tanning bed. According to the survey, 80 percent say tanning prevents sunburns and 43 percent of respondents say there is no health risk associated with tanning.
That’s especially concerning to Cornelius, who said the intensity of UV rays from tanning beds are far more dangerous than exposure to normal sun light.
Cornelius said she hopes the findings will, in part, spur lawmakers in Jefferson City to require parental consent before anyone younger than 18 years of age can use a tanning bed.
“That’s a great opportunity to educate parents to the risk of exposure from the artificial devises,” Cornelius said.
Currently more 33 states require parental consent, Missouri does not. California and Vermont have gone so far as to ban indoor tanning for minors.
The American Suntanning Association maintains that indoor tanning is safe in moderation, but on its website the trade groups notes that it is in favor of requiring parental consent for minors.
“Parental consent for teenage tanning clients is the most effective and practical standard to re-enforce a balanced sun care message. Restrictions beyond this standard may lead to unintended consequences and backfire.”
The trade group, however, is dead set in its opposition to a ban for minors and disputes the comparison to tobacco smoke made by the World Health Organization.
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