Law needed to keep kids and teens out of tanning salons, pediatrics organization says

Law needed to keep kids and teens out of tanning salons, pediatrics organization says

Skin cancer continues to rise, and children and teens need to be kept out of tanning salons for their own protection, says the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The organization released a policy statement today urging, along with the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Dermatology, legislation that would prohibit access to tanning salons and the use of artificial tanning devices by children and teens under 18.

The call for legislation and new recommendations on sun exposure will appear in the March print issue of Pediatrics.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. The two most common forms,  basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas, are highly curable. The most deadly form is melanoma, and 65-90 percent of melanomas are caused by exposure to ultraviolet light, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Despite public health campaigns encouraging people to protect themselves from skin cancer, people continue to expose themselves to harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun and tanning salons.  About one-fourth of non-Hispanic white teens, ages 13-19, have used a tanning facility at least once, according to a national survey. And they may be unaware they’re getting substantially higher UVR exposure in a tanning bed than being outdoors. The intensity of UVR radiation produced at some tanning units can be 10-15 times higher than mid-day sun, according to the policy statement.

In the new technical report, “Ultraviolet Radiation:  A Hazard to Children and Adolescents” that was published on-line today, lifelong sun protection is advised starting at an early age and the importance of education about ultraviolet ray exposure is stressed especially for children at high risk for skin cancer: those with light skin and eyes, those who freckle or sunburn easily or those with a family history of melanoma.

Recommendations include wearing protective clothing and hats, timing outdoor activities to minimize peak midday sun (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) when possible, applying sunscreen and wearing sunglasses.

Parents should keep infants under 6 months out of direct sunlight in hats and protective clothing.

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