Sunday, April 27, 2014

Is that prom tan worth wrinkles, age spots, and melanoma by the time you're 30????

While melanoma can certainly appear in someone with no history of significant tanning or use of sun beds, the link to those behaviors and melanoma is no longer speculation.

Indoor Tanning:  The Link to Melanoma is No Longer Deniable
Hwryluk, et al.  Skin Cancer Foundation, The Melanoma Letter, Winter 2013

Some studies in the 1990's pointed to the carcinogenic effects of indoor tanning,but "with advances in scientific scrutiny and the results of multiple investigations, the weight of evidence has become virtually irrefutable."  "Tanning beds darken the skin through a process that requires UV-induced DNA damage; this damage activates transcription of cellular repair signals that ultimately increase skin pigmentation as a partial barrier against further damage. Unfortunately, some damage has already been done, and the repairs are probably never complete, the remaining damage is what produces genetic mutations that can lead to skin cancers." 

"A recent report linked indoor tanning to 170,000 nonmelanoma skin cancer cases per year in the US. The impact of indoor tanning on an individual's total UV exposure can be substantial...UV emission of sunbeds exceed the UV index of the noontime summer sun at intermediate latititudes.  While the sunbed emission spectra of UVB are similar to the noon sun, UVA emissions are 10-15 times higher...with frequent tanners attaining 12 times the annual UV exposure of sun tanners."

Use is widespread, the "FDA estimates that more than 30 million Americans use tanning devices annually" with the "highest prevalence among individuals 18-29 years of age."   "The 2011 National Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System found the 13% of high school students engaged in indoor tanning."

Studies linking indoor tanning to melanoma go back to 1994.  Numerous well-done studies demonstrating the link are noted in the article.  Studies in 2011 and 2012 found that the "earlier age at first exposure, as well as increased frequency of use, was associated with earlier onset melanoma" and that..."the risk for developing melanoma was especially increased for individuals who started indoor tanning before age 25."  Sad, but very clear statistics like these fill the report.

Due to continuing, overwhelming data like that above, in 2012, "11 countries had legislation that restricts indoor tanning for individuals under age 18."  In the US, California became the first state to ban indoor tanning for anyone under 18, in 2011.  Gradually, bans were developed in Vermont, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Oregon for those under 18.  Connecticut, NY, NJ ban use for those under 17, Wisconsin for those under 16, and many other states ban those under 14, or require parental accompaniment/consent.  Unfortunately, a study in 2011 found that this access limiting legislation was NOT decreasing indoor tanning use in such bans were probably not being enforced.

Now that the association between melanoma and indoor tanning has been definitively PROVEN, the World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Dermatology, and the Academy of Pediatrics have "all issued strong statements about the dangers of tanning....It is time for the FDA to revisit the safety data, and to move forward with raising the classification of tanning devices to Class II, requiring increased legislation.  It is time, in fact, to pass nationwide laws banning all minors under age 18 from indoor tanning."

Adolescent Indoor Tanning Use and Unhealthy Weight Control Behaviors
Amrock and Weitzman. Journal of Developmental/Behavioral Pediatrics.  April 2014.

Pooled data from high school students from 2009 = 2011 (n=26,951) showed 23.3% of females and 6.5% of males reported indoor tanning within the past year.  Additionally, those same teens were likely to have also utilized fasting, taken a pill, powder, or liquid and vomited or taken a laxative to lose weight within the past 30 days than those who did not.  CONCLUSION:  "Significant associations between indoor tanning use and unhealthy weight control behaviors exist for both male and female adolescents, with a stronger association observed among males."
What can we say or do to prove to our teens that there are plenty of ways to be their best, most healthy and beautiful selves without fad diets or changing the color of their skin?  And why would parents, in light of all the current data, continue to take their children (too young to drive themselves!!!) to tanning beds????  Why do adult women I know, continue to participate themselves?  Is leathery wrinkled skin really that beautiful?  Why, as a nation, do we allow a business to make money from a population they are known to be harming...sometimes in life threatening ways? 

As usual, I fail to have the answers I need.  But, I will keep preaching the true dangers of tanning to every beautiful teen who has their physical with every nurse who has the courage (insanity?????) to continue to go to tanning beds and work in my presence. (Sorry guys...[not really]....but I just can't stop myself!!!!)  Guess I figured it was time to preach a little here.

To all colors, shapes and sizes. - c

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