According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 29 percent of white high school girls go to a tanning salon to use the tanning beds. This is worrying health experts because of the rising rates of deadly skin cancers that are developing in young women.
Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, although not involved in the new study, said that there is more evidence than ever linking melanoma with the ultraviolet light emitted from tanning lamps.
According the American Cancer Society, about 9,500 Americans die each year from Melanoma which is a lethal form of skin cancer found in almost 77,000 Americans every year.
The society also states that Melanoma rates in women aged between 15 and 19 has risen by about 3 percent per year since 1992 and the disease can no longer be considered to be an old person’s disease.
The new study from the CDC published in JAMA Internal Medicine states that as girls move through high school the number of them using tanning salons increases and peaks when they are about 18 years old.
The study shows that by the age of 18, white girls who have used a tanning salon during the last year amounted to about 44 percent of them and 30 percent of those said they were regular tanners.
The study also found that 25 percent of women aged between 18 and 34 have used a tanning salon over the last year and preliminary research over the last few years has shown that ultraviolet radiation may be slightly addictive.
Sophie Balk, an attending pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, New York said that young people often think that they will not be affected by ultraviolet tanning and other risky behaviors.
Balk also wrote the policy report on tanning for the American Academy of Pediatrics titled “Ultraviolet Radiation: A Hazard to Children and Adolescents.” She was not involved in the CDC study.
Balk went on to say that even adults don’t realize the full danger of using ultraviolet radiation for tanning. She added that young girls often have their first tanning experience with their mothers and pediatricians need to talk to parents about the dangers of tanning salons as well as their teenage children.
However, representing tanning salon owners, the American Suntanning Association said that it’s not fair to target young women in safety campaigns.
The association went on to say “CDC’s short letter in JAMA calls for policy action, but in doing so ignores mountains of conflicting and confounding data which support teaching sunburn prevention to people of all ages, instead of targeting sun abstinence campaigns at young women. It could not be any more clear that skin cancer rates are skyrocketing in men, and particularly men over age 50, but CDC has inexplicably ignored this group.”