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Many Teens Circumvent Tanning Bed Laws
Date:9/21/2009

Though operators largely follow the rules, the laws are too lax, study shows

MONDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Tanning bed operators appear to be largely abiding by parental consent laws, but the laws don't go far enough in limiting teens' exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays, a new study shows.

Tanning bed operators told data collectors posing as 15-year-old girls that as long as they had parental consent, they could tan as often as they wished, the researchers said.

That runs counter to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommendation to limit exposure during the first week to no more than three sessions -- which experts say is already too much.

"Tanning is a carcinogen for everybody, but especially for teens who are very interested in looking tan and don't often think about the consequences of any of their behaviors," said study principal investigator Joni A. Mayer, a professor of public health at San Diego State University. "Our data and other data indicate that those under age 17 need to be banned from tanning beds."

The findings are published in the September issue of Archives of Dermatology.

Rates of skin cancer have been rising in the United States, particularly among women aged 15 to 39, according to background information in the study. Exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning lamps has been linked to both melanoma and squamous cell cancer. For young women, using tanning beds for the first time before age 35 increases melanoma risk by as much as 75 percent, previous research has shown.

In response to skin cancer concerns, 28 states had laws as of 2005 that put some restrictions on indoor tanning, and 21 states required parental consent, mostly a parental signature, according to the study.

Several states have tighter legislation pending, including banning teens under age 18 from using tanning beds altogether; requiring parents of minors to be present i
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