Golden brown is a nice color — for toast, for flavored coffees, and for pancakes.
Not so much for your birthday suit.
We’re told time and time again of the dangers of baking in the sun, or getting the ‘fake bake’ from tanning beds and booths, yet many of us still seek the light … the light that will darken our skin and make that new white shirt just pop.
Skin that is ‘tan’ is so because it is damaged.
Indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma), according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Indoor tanning exposes users to both UV-A and UV-B rays, which damage the skin and can lead to cancer, says the CDC. Using a tanning bed is particularly dangerous for younger users; people who begin tanning younger than age 35 have a 75 percent higher risk of melanoma. Using tanning beds also increases the risk of wrinkles and eye damage, and changes skin texture.
A tan is a response to injury: skin cells respond to damage from UV rays by producing more pigment, say health care professionals.
Keep that in mind as you weigh the benefits of a new proposed state law that would prohibit minors from tanning businesses.
It’s not about personal rights — it’s about health, plain and simple.
A dermatologist told state lawmakers this week that North Carolina youths should be barred from getting bronzed at the local tanning salon because their risks for cancer are too great. Dr. Kelly Nelson spoke in support of the bill that would prohibit tanning parlor customers younger than 18.
The House health committee considered the bill backed by several medical and cancer-prevention groups. Current law prohibits anyone 13 or younger from using salon equipment unless a doctor gives the child a written prescription, while children 14 to 17 only must have a parent’s permission.
Dr. Nelson, an assistant dermatology professor at Duke University medical school, said the rate of melanoma among women under age 50 is growing during an era in which the number of available tanning beds is increasing. Young people, particularly girls who want the summertime look year round, are being needlessly exposed to higher doses of ultraviolet radiation that can accumulate and break down skin cells over time, Nelson told State House members.
“Melanoma can be deadly, particularly if it’s not diagnosed early,” Nelson said after showing images of melanoma or the less dangerous basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma of her patients. “Young people really need protection and that’s what this bill is about.”
More than 61,000 people were diagnosed with skin melanomas and about 9,200 died from them in 2009, the most recent year that figures were available from the CDC.
A committee vote was delayed at least until next week after a spokesman for a tanning salon industry-funded institute argued that bill supporters were misinforming lawmakers about the beds.
The bill is supported by the North Carolina Medical Society, American Cancer Society, N.C. Pediatric Society and the state’s Child Fatality Task Force, among others.
The bill makes sense to us and deserves passage.