IBJNews

Dermatologists seek ban on minors using tanning beds

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Dermatologists asked the Indiana Health Finance Commission to consider passing a law that bans minors from using tanning beds, while tanning organizations said the risks are misrepresented.

Dermatologist Carrie Davis of Bloomington, a member of the Indiana Academy of Dermatology, told the legislative commission Wednesday that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States, with melanoma causing 75 percent of all skin cancer deaths.

Davis said one in 50 people in the United States will get melanoma in their lifetimes. Among young adults ages 15 to 29, melanoma is the second most common form of cancer – and the most common among young adults ages 25-29.

Also, Davis said that one in five Americans will get skin cancer in their lifetimes and that ultraviolet exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer.

“Any tan, any sunburn is causing DNA damage to the skin,” Davis said.

While most types of cancer are decreasing in frequency, melanoma has been afflicting 2 percent to 3 percent more people each year since the 1980s. Davis said she believes part of this increase is due to the increased use of indoor tanning beds, specifically among people under 18.

Davis said the chances of getting melanoma are increased by 75 percent if a person uses indoor tanning beds before the age of 35. Other risks include sun burns, fair skin, having multiple moles, having atypical moles, and a family history of melanoma.

“So tanning bed use is by no means the only risk factor associated with melanoma development,” Davis said. “But is certainly the most modifiable risk factor.”

Dermatologist Keeter Sechrist told lawmakers that defensive measures against the sun’s UV-A and UV-B rays outdoors have improved over the last 30 years, but the increased use of indoor tanning beds is causing the increase of melanoma.

She said indoor tanning is not healthy. “There is no such thing as a safe tan,” Sechrist said. “If your skin is tan, it’s being damaged.”

And she called skin cancer “an epidemic.”

In 2011, California became the first state to pass a law restricting access to indoor tanning beds to only people over 18, and many states have followed suit.

In Indiana, teens younger than 16 can tan if a parent accompanies them. Those 16- and 17-year-olds must have a parent sign consent in the presence of a tanning salon or bed operator prior to their first use.

But Joseph Levy, scientific advisor to the American Suntanning Association, said he believes the bans on teen tanning were passed with a “lack of intelligent discourse.” And he said in Illinois, a ban only passed in exchange for support on other legislative issues.

Levy told lawmakers that trained professional tanning salons educate their customers about the dangers of indoor tanning. His group, Smart Tan, which is a member of the American Suntanning Association, trains member salons to screen and educate customers.

Levy said the ultraviolet rays in tanning beds are two to three times more intense than those of the sun, but beds are restricted to exerting 624 Joules – a unit of measurement – of energy. He said spending one day in the sun would expose a person to 4,000 Joules.

Levy also said the highest risk factors for melanoma are having 40 or more moles, red hair or a family history of melanoma. Additionally, he said dermatologists misrepresent the dangers of ultraviolet rays, which are the only carcinogens listed that humans cannot live without.

Levy also said people are at a greater risk for contracting melanoma when they purchase in-home tanning beds, because their time in the beds is unregulated. Tanning salons protect customers, he said.

“The unintended consequence of restricting tanning salon access with parents’ consent to people under the age of 18 is that you drive them into unregulated tanning environments,” including the purchase of home units, he said.

Katie Donnar was diagnosed with melanoma her senior year of high school. Donnar, who grew up in Vincennes, began using tannings bed when she was 14 and later purchased an in-home tanning bed her junior year. Six months later, she noticed a spot on her leg and a family doctor sent her to a dermatologist, who removed it and discovered it was cancer.

Fortunately, doctors found the cancer early and Donnar survived but she’s had multiple spots removed since then.

“It’s just this never-ending battle of living with the repercussions of what I did to my body between the ages of 13 and 17,” she said. “That tanning bed we had in our home, we destroyed it.”

Davis said phototherapy, which is a regulated form of skin treatment that sends short rays of light into the skin, is often used by dermatologists to treat certain skin diseases. But, Levy said such treatments can also increase the risk of melanoma.

Levy said he believes tanning organizations and medical professionals should work together to help prevent skin cancer.

“We’re here to be part of the solution,” he said. “If legislators or groups in Indiana would like to work with us to discuss what the science really says and real world solutions to teaching practical sun care education based on facts and not based on distorting information, we look forward to do that together so the Indiana legislature can move on to other more pressing issues without overreaching.”

ADVERTISEMENT

  • Good!
    This cannot happen too soon. I am a 33 year melanoma survivor and have a huge scar on my lower leg as a result. I am amazed at the people who still think there is such a thing as a healthy tan. Every bit of that golden color spells trouble. If you are lucky enough to not get cancer, you probably will not escape the wrinkles and leathery skin that come from natural sun exposure and tanning beds.

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. From the story: "The city of Indianapolis also will consider tax incentives and funding for infrastructure required for the project, according to IEDC." Why would the City need to consider additional tax incentives when Lowe's has already bought the land and reached an agreement with IEDC to bring the jobs? What that tells me is that the City has already pledged the incentives, unofficially, and they just haven't had time to push it through the MDC yet. Either way, subsidizing $10/hour jobs is going to do nothing toward furthering the Mayor's stated goal of attracting middle and upper-middle class residents to Marion County.

  2. Ron Spencer and the entire staff of Theater on the Square embraced IndyFringe when it came to Mass Ave in 2005. TOTS was not only a venue but Ron and his friends created, presented and appeared in shows which embraced the 'spirit of the fringe'. He's weathered all the storms and kept smiling ... bon voyage and thank you.

  3. Not sure how many sushi restaurants are enough, but there are three that I know of in various parts of downtown proper and all are pretty good.

  4. First off, it's "moron," not "moran." 2nd, YOU don't get to vote on someone else's rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by the US Constitution. That's why this is not a state's rights issue...putting something like this to vote by, well, people like you who are quite clearly intellectually challenged isn't necessary since the 14th amendment has already decided the issue. Which is why Indiana's effort is a wasted one and a waste of money...and will be overturned just like this has in every other state.

  5. Rick, how does granting theright to marry to people choosing to marry same-sex partners harm the lives of those who choose not to? I cannot for the life of me see any harm to people who choose not to marry someone of the same sex. We understand your choice to take the parts of the bible literally in your life. That is fine but why force your religious beliefs on others? I'm hoping the judges do the right thing and declare the ban unconstitutional so all citizens of Wisconsin and Indiana have the same marriage rights and that those who chose someone of the same sex do not have less rights than others.

ADVERTISEMENT