The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently released studies that classify tanning, specifically indoor tanning beds, as a “definite human carcinogen”. In other words, they put indoor tanning in the same category as smoking when it comes to long-term damage. In their report, they included a 2006 analysis that showed that people who tanned indoors before the age of 30 increased their risk of developing melanoma by 75%. Other studies cited also showed that the use of indoor tanning had risen from 1% of teens in 1998 to 27% in 2008.
Armed with the information, New York health officials are drafting regulations for the more than 2000 tanning locations in the Empire State (most of which are probably in New York City). The American Cancer Society chapter in New York is pushing for a ban on exposure to indoor tanning for anyone under 18. A spokespersion for the group stated, “While we’re not claiming that people get addicted to tanning the same way you do to nicotine, it is clearly a habit that you develop as a teenager. That’s when most people start frequenting these cancer chambers.” New York currently bans tanning under 14 and requires written parental consent for ages 14 to 18. 32 states currently regulate tanning by minors, and 20 states are considering banning it for minors altogether.
Obviously, you all know how I feel on this subject. I highlight these recent facts not to say “I told you so”, but rather to emphasize the point that tanning booths are a bigger problem than most people realize. Of course, for ultraviolet light we can’t avoid, like the summer sun, I still strongly recommend using sunblock.