As spring begins, fun in the sun — even artificial sun— appeals to teenagers. Many, especially girls, 1to tanning salons to acquire a base tan for the beach and get that “healthy glow” for a strapless prom dress. But2the reason or the season,3should not be allowed to lie in tanning beds. These devices are skin cancer4, and people younger than 18 have the highest risk.
One fifth of girls in grades 9 through 12 have5 in ultraviolet (UV) rays from a tanning device in the past year, and one out of 10 girls reported popping into a tanning bed at least 10 times during that period, according to the Youth Risk Behavior Survey of 2013. The 14,000 tanning salons in the U.S. make that6easy. The 7for a tan contributes to frequent visits, but the behavior is also addictive. Basking under the bulbs releases opioid endorphins that increase relaxation and8positive feelings that make clients9experience the exposure.
Their skin cells,10, are not happy. UV rays damage cellular DNA, which increases the chances those cells will become malignant. Radiation from indoor tanning devices is often stronger than the sun's natural rays. Concern over this11led the World Health Organization in 2009 to12anning devices as a high-level carcinogen —their most dangerous designation, which also includes cigarettes and plutonium. The number of skin cancer cases13tanning beds every year is two times the number of lung cancer cases associated with smoking.
The tanning habit is dangerous for anyone but14 risky for young users because the earlier UV damage begins, the more time it has to add up and get worse. Melanoma is the second most common cancer among women in their 20s, and its15in those young women continues to rise, even as the incidence of most other cancers has16.
The U.S. needs a national ban so that all teenagers are protected immediately.17, such as the Indoor Tanning Association, argue that such laws 18parenting rights and represent a slippery slope of growing government19. But the health of our society's youngest members is paramount. The WHO, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and leading medical societies support a ban for youngsters. We don't allow anyone younger than 18 to buy cigarettes. It is time to stop them from20under bulbs.