More than 1 million people in the U.S. tan in salons on an average day, and indoor tanning salons are on almost every corner now. On average there are 42 tanning salons per city in the U.S., which means there are more tanning salons than Starbucks or McDonalds. In the last 20 years we have headed the wrong direction when it comes to skin cancer prevention, and death rates from skin cancer have been rising.
Tanning (whether indoor or outdoor) puts you at risk of melanoma, basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin. A large number of young white women use tanning beds or intentionally tan in the sun, despite repeated health warnings, according to a new survey from the American Academy of Dermatology.
White women and girls account for almost 70% of tanning salon patrons in the United States. Shockingly, an online survey of more than 3,800 white females aged 14-22 years, found that 81% of them had tanned outdoors frequently or occasionally in the past year. More than 32% reported using a tanning bed in the past year, while 25% reported using a tanning bed at least weekly. That’s a lot of young women! When comparing ages, 18- to 22-year-old women were almost twice as likely (40%) to use indoor tanning beds, compared with 14- to 17-year-olds (22%).
Being tan is desirable at least partially because media and advertisements push the image of tan women. Spray tans are a safer alternative but just aren’t used nearly as often in this younger age group.
Nearly 75% of skin cancer deaths are due to melanoma and rates have been rising over the last 30 years. More than 30 states either prohibit minors or require parental consent for minors who want to use indoor tanning devices. The World Health Organization has declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial light sources a known carcinogen and has called for prohibiting minors from indoor tanning. Let’s see if it really happens.