Cancer. 1,638,910 is the number of people in the year 2012 that will hear this one small word that will change their life forever. 790, 740 of those people are women that will no longer be able to play with their children, no longer be able to drive themselves to do daily activities and often times not even be able to get out of bed for days at a time. Yet, what if there were ways for these women to prevent themselves from getting cancer, you would think they would take precautions right? Wrong. Women continuously every year continue to support one of the leading causes in creating skin cancer by helping to sustain the indoor tanning industry in producing billions of revenue as they take the risk of becoming diagnosed. What is happening is that women and even men know that UV light from the use of tanning beds are not good for you yet still many people are being mislead. Tanning companies produce information that sways opinions of young people as well they are allowing minors to tan with consent of a parent. To change the direction of our society to a more cancer free one, all states need to jump on board and outlaw all tanning bed use of minors; this will prevent younger members of society from feeling the urge to want to tan before they can make their own decision to.
So why do so many young girls these days feel the need to put themselves at risk to one of the most deadly forms of cancer? There are many reasons that contribute to why people feel that the need to tan. According to the Journal of American College Health, there are four main reasons that are targeted as to why people tan: media images, physical appearance, belief in enhancement of attractiveness and aggressive ad campaigns by the tanning industry (Campo 556). It has also been noted by this journal that tanning bed use can be closely related with problem behaviors such as smoking and drinking. For example adolescents that use two to three substances are more likely to use a tanning bed. Also in a recent survey conducted by the AmericanAcademy of Dermatology they asked 3, 800 white females aging from 14-22 if they thought that people looked more attractive with a tan. 66 percent of people answered yes, especially indoor tanners with 87 percent answering yes. What is most shocking about this survey is when asked if these girls who currently tanned indoors knew that tanning beds could cause cancer an appalling 86 percent reported that they did and that they also have continued to use a tanning bed in the last year. Yet, this is not it another 46 percent of these girls also admitted to knowing someone that has or had skin cancer. Young girls are becoming addicting to using tanning salons on the regular and great majority of this is due to them being able to start tanning at such a young age. Current research being done by the University Of Texas Southwestern Medical Center is starting to show that once you go tanning a few times it may not actually be your fault that you have the need to want to go back. Their study is proving that brain activity and corresponding blood flow tracked together in the study are similar to that seen in people addicted to drugs and alcohol. It also shows that people who tan regularly needing a fix won’t be absolutely satisfied until they get a dose of UV radiation.
More recently however more cases of extreme tanning have gone main-stream. Patricia Krentcil a proclaimed “tanorexic” is adding fuel to the fire in the current battle to produce new laws to stop the use of tanning among users under the age of eighteen. This 44 year old New Jersey native, was only just arrested for supposedly trying to take her five year old daughter into a tanning booth with her. She denied all of these accusations, but it was found that her daughter did have second- degree burns on her face and body. The fact that our society has come to a time where women feel the need to tan their five year old children is just wrong. Not only is this woman putting her child at risk for possible skin cancer she is setting a bad example for the future of her children that tanning is acceptable. Actually, it has been proven that young women whose first indoor tanning experience is with their mothers are more than 4.6 times more likely to be heavy tanners. However, the extremity of this case has helped lead to the decision of the New Jersey Woman and Children Committee to vote to pass a law that all children under fourteen be prohibited from the use of all tanning booths and children fourteen to seventeen have the signed consent of a parent.
While this is a great step in the right direction to prevent minors from using tanning beds this still leaves 14-17 year olds at a risk for early exposure to UV rays that can rapidly increase their chances in developing skin cancer. In fact, melanoma is the most common form of cancer for young adults 25-29 years old and the second most common form of cancer for young people 15-29 years old.. The thing about skin cancer is that no one ever expects to get it; people don’t wake up in the morning and think about the risks. People jus think that it will never happen to them yet; all those who choose to use a tanning bed are 74 percent more at risk to get skin cancer compared to those who have never tanned. So why don’t people stop? Why don’t people look at the signs and risks and try and take precautions against skin cancer? The 30 million people that are choosing to tan every year, 2.3 million of those being teenagers, are constantly being mislead by tanning companies.
One of the biggest claims various tanning companies continue to use is that tanning in the winter time can help to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder which is a disorder where people tend to be more depressed with the changing of the seasons. This claim that the tanning industries like to support is basically unjustified due to the fact that tanning industries can only quote doctors and not cite actual research. In spite of the gimmick that the tanning industry is able to play up, the bottom line is that tanning in a tanning bed is more damaging than it is helpful and it’s not the only way to stop seasonal affective disorder. Another recent claim tanning industries are now making is to divert people to use a new type of “safe” tanning bed that emit UVB rays for getting vitamin D. Most tanning beds use UVA rays which are different from UVB rays because they can cause damage below the surface of the skin. The thing is no real studies have been done to show that these UVB tanning beds are so much safer because UVA and UVB rays both are cancer causing. Sunlight however is not the only way to gain vitamin D, by maintaining a healthy diet and eating the right types of food, vitamin D is easily obtainable in an everyday diet.
Now what needs to happen is force and legislation to help stop these groundless claims that tanning companies feel that they can make and most importantly stop tanning bed use from being available to all minors even under consent. As of January 2012, California became the first state to obtain a law that restricted all access of minors to use any type of tanning bed. This law replaced California’s former state law which was established in 1988 which stated all person’s aged 14 to 18 need signed consent of a parent and person’s younger than 14 needed to be accompanied by a parent. Before California choose to go this route they may have gotten some ideas for tanning laws from the state of Texas, that choose to have the strict law that no persons under the age of 16.5 could use a tanning device and all other older minors needed a parents permission. Although California is currently paving the way to create new bans against tanning devices, still an approximant 31 states are just regulating minors by having the consent of a parent. With an estimated 76,250 new cases of melanoma being sought out in the year 2012, more states need to be enacting a law that is similar to that of California’s. Basically, parents don’t know all the facts and while they might think that tanning is the right thing for their children, it simply is just not in any form.
In 2010 President Barack Obama supported a 10 percent tax on tanning that would tax all individuals who choose to tan in a tanning salon. The main reason for this tax is to help produce 2.7 million dollars for the health care industry, but another thought was to push people away from tanning beds because they are closely linked to skin cancer. This tax was thought to be a great answer to decrease tanning bed usage, nevertheless in a survey done by the American Academy of dermatology in May of 2011, a year after the tax was implemented, 32 percent of people responding still said that they have used a tanning bed in the past year as well as 25 percent of people responding saying that they have used a tanning bed in the last week. The wildest statistic that this survey was able to find was that even though all these respondents knew that spray tanning was a cheaper and safer alternative to tanning bed usage, 86 percent still reported to not having had one in the past year and instead gone tanning in a tanning bed.
Taxes have been implemented, people know the risks of tanning and while indoor tanning use has been shown to be closely related to behavior as well as it has been show to become addicting, people still tan. What we turn to now is the intrusive ad campaigns that the tanning industry continues to relay and the lack of information about sun care protection that is provided to people. In a survey done by the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 22 websites were studied to see how indoor tanning has been promoted to its users. What was found was that none of the distributors provided any full information about the risks of tanning bed use. A total of 59 percent of web advertisements had no information on the risks and only 41 percent provided partial information. Primarily women were used in all of these ads and of course they were all extremely bronzed (Team 372). When 579 issues of 25 popular U.S. magazines were reviewed for advertisements of sun care products such as sun lotion with SPF, 77 percent of these ads were only represented in the woman’s magazines, not the men’s. Two thirds of the sun care products advertised was from cosmetics or moisturizers that had SPF in them. Absolutely none of these ads had all of the recommendations for safe use of sunscreen (Geller 349).
With ultraviolet rays now being accountable for 90 percent of all skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas worldwide, not only does new legislation need to be passed, regulations need to be set for the ridiculous claims the tanning industry is able to make. Without new legislation stating that minors cannot use a type of tanning device, adolescents will continue to tan and put their lives in harm. Things need to change, bottom line it is unfair to keep putting the youth at harm just so they can get “bronze”. Lies needs to stop being told by the tanning industries to try and pull customers in. At the end of the day skin cancer is highly preventable if the right steps are taken, these steps need to be taken for a better future.
Campo, Shelly. "Indoor Tanning and Problem Behavior." Journal Of American College Health (2008): 555-62. Print.
Geller, Alan` C. "Sun Care Advertising in Popular U.S. Magazines." American Journal Of Health Promotion (2006): 349-52. Print.
Team, Victoria, and Milica Markovic. "Interent Advertising of Atrifcial Tanning in Australia." European Journal of Cancer Prevention (2006): 371-76. Print.