Snookie, The Situation… and the next 15 minutes of fame go to a ridiculously bronzed woman who has an obvious tanning addiction; The Tanning Mom. Once again a pop culture travesty has come from my home state of New Jersey. The Tanning Mom rose to national notoriety because she allegedly took her child to a tanning booth, which sparked a debate about indoor tanning and its safety. I would like to thank her for creating that controversy; it is a debate that needs some light shined on it (with sunscreen of course).
The Skin Cancer Foundation says that this is an extraordinary time for health risks in America. They have seen a dramatic rise in skin cancer diagnosis, including melanoma, at very young ages. There is increasing evidence that UV tanning rays are not as benign as we all would like to believe. The World Health Organization declared indoor tanning devices to be carcinogenic in 2009, citing 20 different studies each presenting frightening results.
The risk of melanoma and other variations of skin cancer can increase after four tanning bed appointments within a single year. Only four appointments. The more encounters with tanning beds, the greater the risk.
I have several female patients in my practice under the age of 30 with serious skin cancers. What’s more shocking is that each and every one of them admits to using a tanning bed in college. Youth exposure is particularly risky, as shown in recent studies. It is incredibly disturbing to learn that 44% of women living in the Midwest – ages 18 to 21 – are visiting tanning beds on a regular basis. The average twenty- something woman visits a tanning bed approximately 20 times per year. The demand is so great, there are over 22,000 tanning salons in the Unites States alone.
Unless we start regulating indoor tanning, particularly in our young people, we will have a shortage of dermatologists to treat all of those affected by skin cancer and melanomas in the future, and that can have some serious implications.