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May 06, 2011

Cancer Alert: Why Are You Still Tanning?

According to a new survey from the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 80% of young, white women use tanning beds or intentionally tan in the sun--despite their full cognizance of the deleterious effects of UV light.

3800 white, non-Hispanic females aged 14 to 22 years were asked about their UV exposure....

  • 81% had tanned outdoors frequently or occasionally in the past year
  • More than 32% reported using a tanning bed in the past year
  • 25% reported using a tanning bed at least weekly

When comparing ages, 18-22-year-old women were almost twice as likely (40%) to use indoor tanning beds, compared with 14-17 year olds (22%).

Yet, most of these women recognized that tanning is not good for their skin.  Most know that UV light causes skin cancer, and certain skin cancers (like melanomas) can kill.  Public education has been effective, but education has not been enough to effect behavior change.

Looking tan is a fashion--a dangerous fashion.  Media images are obviously more impactful than physician admonishments.

Certainly, then, other measures are necessary.  More than 30 states either prohibit 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.

Additionally, perhaps, there should be a waiting period for tanning bed treatments.  Or, maybe, any person interested in using a tanning bed should, just before a session, be required to watch a video expressing the deleterious effects of UV light--and there should be lots of gruesome photos.  I am not usually a fan of Big Brother, but this is an example of when people need to be saved from themselves.

Besides, white ain't so bad!  Certainly, better than cancerous.



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Rosina deMaltby

Ahhh! What to do, Dr. Pickart. Many moons ago, in my early 30s, I was the public education person for the Canadian Dermatology Association. I started applying sunscreen to my face every day. I am now 59 and have not one wrinkle or sag. People think I'm in my late 30s or early 40s. But when I was 20, I too would have closed my ears to people telling me I'd get skin cancer or age prematurely.

I don't believe that Big Brother should get in there, especially up here in Canada, which is a Nanny State in practically every way imaginable - but I would like to see the age of consent for tanning beds raised to 25. Showing gruesome pics hasn't stopped or even reduced smoking as people just say, "It won't happen to me..."

Michael Pickart

Thanks for the testimony! Yes, sunscreen works. Ignore all those comments about looking pasty; pale is healthy!

Sorry to have gone political on you. The law is not my specialty. Since public education has failed, I confess that I feel beaten. I just dont know where else to turn other than the Nanny State.

Michael C. Pickart, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Pickart Plastic Surgery, Inc.

1746 S. Victoria Ave., #250, Ventura, CA 93003
(805) 654-8800 | fax (805) 654-8802

To: info@pickartplasticsurgery.com


With the dangers of UV tanning being known for a few years now and with the rise in popularity of self tanning products its shocking that 80% of the 3800 non hispanic females polled still risk their health.

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