The American Academy of Pediatricians, the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Medical Association all agree that not enough is being done to warn teens and their parents about the dangers of indoor tanning beds. The groups are calling upon their member physicians to do more to protect children from the dangers of ultraviolet radiation while supporting legislative efforts to ban the use of tanning salons among minors.
A May 2010 study found that the risk of melanoma was 74 percent higher in people who tanned indoors, compared with people who didn't use tanning beds. And that risk is even higher for people who start tanning young. The more years you spent in tanning beds, the greater your risk. So the question is, are teens mature enough to understand this risk?
"Teen girls are frequent visitors," said Sophie Balk of the Children's Hospital at Montefiore in New York, who was representing the American Academy of Pediatricians in a press statement. "And the use increases the older a teen is — so a 17-year-old is much more likely than a 14-year-old to go to a tanning salon." Balk continued, "public awareness of the risk is not optimal, overall compliance with sun protection is inconsistent, and melanoma rates continue to rise."
Currently, more than 30 states regulate indoor tanning by minors, and some have banned the practice for children younger than 14 or require parental permission. A handful of states, such as Illinois and New York, are considering bills that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from indoor tanning in salon tanning beds.