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12-05-2011 | Article

Tanning bed users are not being warned of the dangers


Academy website

MedWire News: A large percentage of young women are not being warned about the danger of skin cancer from indoor tanning beds, a survey by the American Academy of Dermatology has found.

The survey revealed that 43% of indoor tanners reported that they had never been warned about the dangers of tanning beds by tanning salon employees, while 30% said that they were unaware of any warning labels on tanning beds.

Women aged 14-17 years were significantly more likely to be unaware of any warning labels than older women aged 18-22 years, at 42% versus 25%.

"Indoor tanning poses a significant health risk, especially for Caucasians because of their fair skin. Studies have found that ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning beds increases a person's risk of developing melanoma by 75%," notes the president of the Academy Ronald Moy.

"Contributing to this problem is the fact that tanning bed facilities currently are not required to verbally warn patrons of the known health risks of ultraviolet radiation, and in some cases, they may be misleading the public by falsely promoting artificial ultraviolet light as safer than natural sunlight."

Indeed, the survey of more than 3800 White women aged 14 to 22 years showed that, despite being classified as cancerous by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, tanning beds were thought to be safer than the sun by 39% of 14-17 year olds and 15% of 18-22 year olds.

Also, 26% of women aged 14-17 years and 8% of women aged 18-22 years thought tanning beds do not cause skin cancer.

"That is why it's important that the Food and Drug Administration change the classification of indoor tanning devices to reflect the significant health risks that they pose, often unknowingly, to tanning salon patrons."

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration ranks tanning beds as needing a minimal level of regulation.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper