With year-round tanning so immensely popular among young people in Alabama, it is important to be aware of some recent scientific findings on tanning beds and cancer:
- The earlier in your life you start indoor tanning, the greater the risk you'll develop skin cancer, showed a study recently published in the British Medical Journal.
- If you're under 35, your risk of developing the skin cancer melanoma from using tanning beds goes up by 75 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- People who use tanning beds have a 67 percent higher risk of developing the skin cancer called squamous cell carcinoma, and a 29 percent higher risk of developing basal cell carcinoma than people who do not.
- The radiation from tanning beds weakens your immune system, making you more vulnerable to all types of cancer, said another study in the British Medical Journal.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has designated the light from indoor tanning beds as a Class 1 carcinogen -- the same category of cancer-causing materials as plutonium and radon.
As of now, the FDA designates tanning beds as Class I devices -- which are things like elastic bandages that pose very little known risk. It has been reviewing that designation since 2010.
If you had previously believed that tanning salons were safe, or that you could not get cancer from using a tanning bed, please reconsider.
When a product can be shown to cause injury or death, the manufacturer and distributors of that product can often be held financially responsible for the harm they have caused. When the problem is only noticeable after medium- to long-term exposure to the product, however, it can be quite difficult to build a product liability case that draws a direct line of causation from the product to the harm.
Is a year-round tan worth such an increase in your risk of developing potentially deadly skin cancer?
Vermont and California, along with a number of foreign countries, have passed laws restricting the use of tanning beds to those 18 and older. Should Alabama do the same?
- Bloomberg, "Teens Dying From Sunbed Tanning curb $5 Billion Industry," Jason Gale, Dec. 2, 2012
- News Release, University of California at San Francisco, "Tanning Beds Linked to Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer," Elizabeth Fernandez, Oct. 2, 2012