Tanning: Why more U.S. states are banning minors from Solariums

solarium tanning dangers
Photo: Shutterstock

Dangers of tanning

A bill to ban minors from indoor tanning, a move to reduce their risk of getting skin cancer, has passed the Arizona House and reached the Senate.

House Bill 2493 would ban tanning salons and other facilities in one of the nation’s sunniest states from serving anyone under 18.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the lifetime risk of skin melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, increases by 75% among people who began using UV tanning devices before the age of 35.

“In the 1930s, the lifetime risk of getting melanoma was one in 1,500. Now, it’s one in 50. And that is almost entirely due to recreational sun exposure,” said Dr. Ronald Hansen, MD of Phoenix, AZ.

Currently, fifteen US states and one territory (California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and Washington) ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18.

Eleven European countries (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom) also ban the use of tanning beds to minors.

Australia and Brazil are the only countries that have completely banned Solariums (sunbeds and tanning beds) for all ages. Brazil first banned them for minors back in 2003, and eventually expanded it to all ages in 2009.

Tanning beds and vitamin d

A tanning bed will never provide you with the vitamin D that you need.

Most tanning devices primarily emit ultraviolet A, which is relatively ineffective in stimulating vitamin D synthesis.

While there is no question that vitamin D is essential for strong bones and a healthy immune system, most people can make enough vitamin D from being out in the sun daily for short periods with their forearms, hands or lower legs uncovered.

Another easy way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D is to include a variety of oily fish (such as tuna, salmon, and sardines), eggs and certain fortified breakfast cereals in your diet.

Having a blood test to measure the amount of vitamin D in your blood is the only way to know if you’re getting enough vitamin D or not.

If your results come back showing that your vitamin D is low, Vitamin D supplements may be helpful, but you should speak with your doctor first and take them strictly as directed.

Are tanning beds bad for you?

Yes … yes… yes!

Evidence from multiple studies has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma.

Tawny Dzierzek, a 27-year-old nurse from Kentucky, was a frequent tanner as a teenager. Since then she’s been diagnosed with skin cancer on six different occasions.

“If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like,” she wrote in a Facebook post along with the photo below. “Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it.”

tanning beds skin cancer
Tawny Dzierzek was a frequent tanner as a teenager — a lifestyle choice she now regrets.