Despite Warnings, Teens Still Tanning Indoors

[MMA News Now, Jan. 16, 2014] A survey released Jan. 14 by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) shows that a large percentage of Minnesota high school girls are still tanning indoors.
The MDH survey found that 34 percent of 11th grade white females reported they had tanned indoors in the last year, and more than half of them tanned indoors 10 or more times.

“The survey underscores the importance of educating teenagers about the very real risks of tanning, one of which is increasing the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer,” said Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger, M.D.

“This is very disturbing news,” said MMA President Cindy Firkins Smith, M.D., a dermatologist based in Willmar. “Melanoma has increased exponentially in my practice. I've diagnosed this terrifying cancer in many young patients and have had two 30-year old women die of metastatic disease. The young woman who died last year told me that if she could change one thing in her life it would be that she would never have stepped in a tanning bed. Obviously, our current education and parental restrictions are not working. You can be assured that the MMA will be fighting for restrictions on indoor tanning in the upcoming session.”

According to MDH, indoor tanning beds deliver 10 to 15 times more ultraviolet (UV) radiation than natural sunlight, boosting the user’s risk of developing melanoma by at least 59 percent. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared UV radiation from indoor tanning as a carcinogen.

Melanoma is the second most common cancer among females ages 15 to 29 years old, according to Minnesota cancer registry data. The number of non-Hispanic white women ages 20 to 49 years old diagnosed with melanoma is increasing 5 percent each year, a trend that has been observed for 15 years. 

In an effort to educate teens about the dangers of indoor tanning, the MDH has announced a contest, called the UVideo Challenge, which encourages high school students to create and submit 30-second anti-tanning videos.
“We’re glad to see that the health department is using some unique tactics to help educate teens about the hazards of tanning,” Smith said. “Minnesota dermatologists are so passionate about this issue, we voted at our last MDS (Minnesota Dermatological Society) meeting to provide the prize money!”

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