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Indoor tanning is really bad for you. Anyone who has ever been in a tanning bed and felt the warm flashes of UV lights radiating over their bodies should have thought about the skin cancer risks associated with the activity. As it turns out, a healthy percentage of white women are either not thinking about it or willingly accepting the risks because they’re still using them.
The Center for Disease and Control Prevention has already stated that indoor tanning is harmful to an individual’s health and has been known to cause a variety of cancers, including melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye, the latter of which sounds particularly icky. This week, the CDC also published a study that looked into who is tanning indoors and how those tanning sessions can affect a person’s health. The results are unsettling. According to the study, 29.3% of non-Hispanic white women use a tanning bed more than once each year, many of them using the beds numerous times.
The statistics related to indoor tanning and subsequent cancer are fairly stunning. According to New York Daily News, women tanning before the age of 35 increases melanoma risk by anywhere between 59% and 75%. Those who tan even younger, before the age of 25 see increased risk of anywhere between 40% and 102%, which seems like a pretty big range, but no matter which way you look at it, the numbers do note that cancer risk increases with indoor tanning. Due to this evidence, found via previous studies, some states have even placed bans on youth tanning, including Illinois, California, Vermont, Oregon, Nevada, and Texas. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 33 states now regulate tanning in some manner or another.
Obviously, the regulation isn’t having much of an effect on a certain percentage of women when it comes to their tanning choices. The CDC documented widespread use of indoor tanning units by young people, and that widespread tanning showed no signs of slowing down.
“Indoor tanning is widespread among non-Hispanic white female high school students and adults ages 18 to 34 years, and the frequent use of indoor tanning is common. This widespread use is of great concern given the elevated risk of skin cancer among younger users and frequent users.”
Clearly, information on the risks associated with tanning should be heavily considered before a person moves forward with indoor tanning use. Despite the risks, the good news is that only 29.3% of women report any tanning bed use each year and only 16.7% admitted to using tanning beds frequently. Hopefully, even if you did use a tanning bed errantly a few times during your youth, while your risk of skin cancer has increased, it’s probably not something that should keep you up at night. The best thing to take out of this study is that it’s important to understand the risks of tanning and impart that knowledge to the generations that come after, so that youths with sensitive skin are able to make informed decisions.