Risks Worth Reward?

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Updated: 5/02/2012 11:24 pm
     Nearly 30 million people use tanning beds every year, 2.3 million are teens, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.    

     "Those tanning beds, although you don't seem like you burn so easy, the damage is much deeper and longer lasting, says dermatologist Dr. Fernando deCastro.

     The foundation says indoor ultraviolet tanners are 74% more likely to develop melanoma than those who don't tan indoors.  While the tan fades, the UV ray damage caused by it may not.  More than 123,000 thousand new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2011, resulting in nearly 9,000 deaths.  

     "It is very intense ultraviolet light exposure with a lot of UVA, UVA is the wavelength that causes significant damage deeper in the skin," says Dr. deCastro.

     He says it's never safe tan but it's even more dangerous for kids under the age of 12.
     "It's really something that is cumulative," explains Dr. deCastro.

     In February 2008, a Kentucky law was passed requiring people younger than 14-years-old to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian when using a tanning bed.  Kentucky law requires written parental consent is required for those older than 14 but younger than 18.  He says this law doesn't go far enough and he's seen an increase in younger patients.

     "We're seeing a lot of younger people with basal cell carcinoma.  17, 18 year-olds, we're seeing 21-year-olds with melanomas.  I mean, it's awful," comments Dr. deCastro.

     And Dr. deCastro has some advice, "basically, you shouldn't change colors, ever.  You should have the same color all year round, whatever that means.  That doesn't mean you have to be a hermit.  It just means that you have to wear a hat, shirts, use umbrellas, and stay in the shade."

     But, The Indoor Tanning Association says the fact is there is no consensus among researchers regarding the relationship between melanoma skin cancer and UV exposure either from the sun or tanning bed.
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