Susan Evans, M.D. describes the danger to teenagers:

Tanning beds are not safe. Both UVA and UVB rays cause cancer. Tanning beds often exceed “safe” UV limits, despite the claims of the salon. Teens are at special risk because their bodies are undergoing such accelerated growth rates that their cells are more prone to the damage of the UV radiation. By routinely tanning their skin starting at a young age, teens put themselves at greater lifetime risk of developing skin cancer. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to get a sunburn in a tanning bed, and your eyes are at an increased risk of developing cataracts and corneal burns.


Believe it or not, indoor tanning causes more skin cancer than smoking causes lung cancer — by a wide margin, according to the CDC:

In the United States, indoor tanning is estimated to cause about 419,000 cases of skin cancer every year. For comparison, smoking is thought to cause about 226,000 cases of lung cancer every year.

According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System,the following proportions of youth report indoor tanning—

  • 13% of all high school students.
  • 21% of high school girls.
  • 32% of girls in the 12th grade.
  • 29% of white high school girls.



Young white women, says Meg Cassidy, bear the brunt of the damage being done by artificial ultraviolet light:

According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, the incidence of melanoma has increased eightfold among women ages 18 to 39 since 1970. “Melanoma is a new epidemic in young women,” says Jerry Brewer, M.D., a Mayo Clinic dermatologic surgeon and author of the study, who admits even he was shocked by these findings. “Other studies have shown an increase, but this study found melanoma occurring in women 705 percent more often. It’s astounding.”


Seattle Mama Doc is worried mostly about teenagers:

[T]anning is a misinformation issue. Children and teens may have no idea what risk they take when getting a tan (or a burn) and some parents often have no idea the danger of these tanning beds pose. The argument for “this may cause cancer” often doesn’t resonate with a teen. It’s simply too remote, too far off, or too “grown up” a concern. I’ve found talking about the truth behind wrinkles may be a better angle…


Dr. Swanson wants to increase awareness, and the truth starts here:

Loving the sun is not the problem. It’s sensible to crave sunlight; the sun promotes feelings of well-being while sunlight is essential for vitamin D synthesis in our skin which can mediate mood amongst all sorts of other goodness-es. The sun provides ultraviolet radiation however, so we need to balance the benefits of sunlight with the risks of UVR, particularly in children. UVR is harmful because damages skin and evidence supports a strong causal relationship between sunlight exposure and skin cancer. In particular, there is a heightened risk of melanoma for those with increased childhood sun-exposure. UVR is made up of UVA and UVB waves of light. This is handy: UVB light is the light that Burns, and UVA light is the light that causes your skin to Age (wrinkle).


The AAP wants pediatricians to take a more active role in discouraging the use of indoor tanning beds:

Deliberate UVR exposure to artificial sources and overexposure to sun with the goal of increasing vitamin D concentrations, or for other reasons, is to be avoided. UVR exposure raises skin cancer risk. Guidance should be given about vitamin D adequacy obtained through the diet and supplements.


Dermatologist Justin Vujevich wants to see legislation:

Pennsylvania is the only state east of the Mississippi that has not passed legislation protecting our children from the dangers of indoor tanning. In fact, 40 states already have some restriction on childhood indoor tanning. With prom season approaching, teens will be targeted by the indoor tanning industry to get that “healthy glow” without understanding the long-term health implications.

Ultraviolet light from indoor tanning is a known carcinogen that promotes premature aging, lowers our immune system and increases the risk of skin cancer. Individuals who have tanned in a tanning booth before the age of 35 have a 75 percent increased risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

As a Pittsburgh dermatologist, I, along with my staff, see our region’s skin cancer epidemic on a daily basis. As a parent, I support legislation that prevents skin cancer in our youth. Please contact your state legislator today and ask him or her to support passage of HB 1259.