Askanesthetician's Blog

An esthetician explores skincare issues and concerns

California Is the First State to Ban Indoor Tanning for Minors October 13, 2011

Filed under: skin cancer,sun protection — askanesthetician @ 6:14 am
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I was delighted to hear the other day that California has become the first state to ban the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18.  The law goes into effect on January 1st, 2012.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

Close to 2.5 million teens tan indoors in the US every year, increasing their risk of developing melanoma by 75 percent. Indoor tanners are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma, and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

The law aims to protect minors from the dangers of tanning beds:

“Tanning is like smoking, we know what the cause is. We protect our minors from cigarettes. This is the same thing. As many as 40% of 17-year-old girls are exposed to tanning beds, and we need to protect them,” says Darrell Rigel, MD, skin cancer expert and member of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery Association (ASDSA). “We hope this will help girls form healthy habits and decrease the rates of melanoma in women especially.”

Melanoma is the No. 1 form of cancer in people ages 25-29, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Rates for melanoma in this age group are seven times higher for women, the primary factor being the use of tanning beds, says Rigel.

The American Academy of Dermatology expressed support for the law in a statement, noting that use of tanning beds sharply increases the risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. A recent study from the University of Minnesota’s Masonic Cancer Center and School of Public Health shows that people who use any type of tanning bed for any length of time are 74% more likely to develop melanoma, and frequent users of indoor tanning beds are 2.5-3 times more likely to develop melanoma, than those who never use tanning devices.

Source:  California Bans Indoor Tanning for Minors  from Skin Inc.


I applaud the California legislators and Governor Brown for enacting this law.  I hope it helps to educate minors and ultimately saves lives as well.

Further Reading:


Teens and Tanning Beds April 28, 2011

Hopefully you don’t know a teen who uses a tanning bed, but the scary thing is that too many teens do use tanning beds since they are completely unaware of the dangers involved with their use.  Once a teen starts tanning it is really hard to get them to stop (it has even been proven that tanning is addictive which is very scary).  The US lags behind other nations in banning the use of tanning beds by teens; for instance the UK has banned the use of tanning beds by anyone under the age of 18.

According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

Despite a link between indoor tanning bed use and an increased risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, 2.3 million teenagers visit tanning salons every year. In the spring, many tanning salon patrons are college students getting ready for spring formals, and high school students gearing up for prom season. So it’s no surprise that melanoma is now the most common form of cancer in young adults 25-29 years old, and the second most common form of cancer in adolescents and young adults ages 15-29.

“The damage caused by the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds and the sun is cumulative and often irreversible, and the earlier people start to tan, the higher their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetimes,” said Perry Robins, MD, President, The Skin Cancer Foundation. “In fact, melanoma risk increases by 75 percent when indoor tanning begins before age 35.”

If the threat of skin cancer isn’t enough to scare young people away from tanning salons, they should know that 90 percent of visible skin changes commonly attributed to aging are caused by exposure to UV radiation. Tanning accelerates the signs of aging, including wrinkles, leathering and fine lines, which can be seen as early as in one’s twenties.

Despite the fact that The American Academy of Pediatrics supports a ban on the use of tanning beds by minors it is still legal for teens to use tanning beds.  The Skin Cancer Foundation points out:

In the US, tanning is regulated by the states, some of which allow children as young as 14 to tan. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies UV-emitting tanning machines as Class I Medical Devices, meaning that it considers them to “present minimal potential for harm to the user.” Last year, the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel of the FDA’s Medical Devices Advisory Committee unanimously recommended that the FDA upgrade its classification of tanning devices to better reflect the serious health risks tanning machines pose. The majority of the panel was also in favor of an age restriction to limit minors’ access to UV tanning devices.

So until the FDA and/or the federal government ban the use of tanning beds by minors what can you do to prevent teens from using tanning beds?  First and foremost, I think education is key.  If scaring a teen with the risk of cancer isn’t enough to get them to stop using a tanning bed appeal to their vanity by explaining that they are aging their skin tremendously by using a tanning bed.  If you want to do even more write to the FDA and/or your senator or congressperson asking them to support a ban on tanning bed use by minors.  Recommend to a teen who really likes how their skin looks tan to get a spray tan or fake a tan with a home applied tanning lotion.  There are a tremendous number of products on the market in all price ranges so there is really no excuse not to try one if you like the way your skin looks tan.

If any of the above tactics don’t stop the teens you know from tanning have them hear a personal story about the dangers of tanning beds.  I found this story on the FDA website:

Brittany Lietz Cicala of Chesapeake Beach, Md., began tanning indoors at age 17. She stopped at age 20 when she was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The former Miss Maryland says she used tanning beds at least four times a week, and sometimes every day.

“Growing up, until I started using tanning beds, my parents were very strict about me wearing sunscreen,” says Cicala. Although she also tanned in the summer sun during her 3 years of tanning bed use, Cicala estimates that 90 percent of her UV exposure was in tanning beds during this period.

In the 4 years since she was diagnosed with melanoma, Cicala’s surgeries have left her with about 25 scars. Cicala gets a head-to-toe skin exam every 3 months, which usually results in removal of a suspicious growth.


Sources and Further Reading:




Support Stricter Tanning Bed Regulations – It’s Very Easy! November 30, 2010

I recently received my monthly email update from The Skin Cancer Foundation which contained a request to help increase tanning bed regulation by sending an email to your Congressional representative about a bill that is going before Congress this month.  It turns out it is super easy to help get this cause the recognition and support it desperately needs. 



Why You Should Support Stricter Tanning Bed Regulations


According to The Skin Cancer Foundation :

Indoor tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma than those who have never tanned indoors.  Yet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently regulates tanning beds the same way as gauze, bandages, and tongue depressors.

Tanning bed users have 2.5 times the risk of squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times the risk of basal cell carcinoma. These nonmelanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are the two most common skin cancers, and both can be highly disfiguring if not caught and treated in a timely manner. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), the most common form of skin cancer, affects over a million Americans annually. Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) can metastasize if not caught early; approximately 2,500 people in the US die every year from SCC. People with a history of NMSC face twice the risk of developing other malignancies, like lung, colon, and breast cancer.

The tanning industry relies on two misleading arguments: first, that since melanoma is mainly caused by sunburn, “controlled” tanning helps prevent melanoma by building up the protective pigment melanin; second, that UV exposure makes the skin produce vitamin D, which helps prevent breast, prostate and colon cancer, as well as other diseases.

Medical experts refute these arguments. They point out that our diet (especially vitamin D-rich foods such as dairy products and salmon) generally provides all the vitamin D we need. Furthermore, tanning to increase melanin is counterproductive. Tanning, like burning, causes genetic damage to skin cells. “You can’t protect the skin by damaging it,” said James M. Spencer, MD, director of dermatologic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. “Tanning not only increases the risk for melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, but accelerates skin aging.”

There have been several attempts made to regulate the industry, by physician groups as well as state and national congresspeople and the World Health Organization, with limited success. The FDA is weighing stricter controls over tanning devices, but has not yet instituted any changes. The tanning industry has fought all of these measures. “Tanning manufacturers and salon owners keep lobbying the FDA and state agencies to soften regulations, claiming that tanning is healthful,” said Dr. Spencer.


The Bill Before Congress


The bill that is going before Congress at the end of the month asks the FDA to look at the classification of tanning beds and reclassify them as dangerous to consumers.   That’s it.  So far there is no bill that calls for a ban on tanning beds.

What You Can Do


Simply fill out this online form on The Skin Cancer Foundation website.  It literally takes 30 seconds to do this.  After you’ve filled in your information the site automatically fills in the name of your representative.  Then you send the email.  Very, very simple.  I even received a reply from my congresswoman that her office had received my email the same evening that I sent my email letter.


Please share this information with friends and family.  It can save lives!


For more information about the dangers of indoor tanning please see this page on The Skin Cancer Foundation website.



An End To Tanning Salons? April 5, 2010

There is no such thing as a healthy tan, and going to a tanning salon and using a tanning bed is one of the worst things that you can do to yourself since there is a direct link between tanning beds and skin cancer.  Unfortunately up until now physicians, estheticians, skin cancer survivors, and concerned citizens have had little support from the government when it came to educating and warning the public about the extreme hazards of tanning salonsand tanning beds.  Until now the FDA has classified tanning salons as Class I medical devices which means the FDA considers them to “present minimal potential for harm to the user.”  Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Luckily, it seems that the FDA is going to upgrade their classification of tanning salons.  On March 25th the General and Plastic Surgery Devices Panel of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Medical Devices Advisory Committee met and unanimously decided that the FDA must change its classification of tanning beds and tanning salons.  Just what that new classification will look like is unclear.  According to The Skin Cancer Foundation:

The Panel unanimously concluded that this classification was not appropriate, with some Panel members favoring a designation of Class II with restrictions (“special controls”) to limit access by age, and/or skin type. Others thought tanning devices should be upgraded to Class III (the most strictly regulated category), but they acknowledged that the latter reclassification would be difficult to implement.The majority of the Panel was in favor of an age restriction to limit minors’ access to UV tanning devices, although some members preferred a parental consent option.

The Panel also approved of more disclosure to users — and better placement of labels warning users about the risks of UV tanning. While the FDA requires tanning beds to include instructions for the use of protective eyewear and a warning label about the potential for eye and skin damage, as Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro noted in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, “In most cases the labels are located on the upper canopy [of the tanning bed], and out of sight of consumers prior to tanning.” The Panel also paid special attention to the possibility of eye damage from tanning devices, and discussed stronger protective eyewear requirements.

While the FDA is deciding just how the new regulations will look the American Academy of Dermatology Association asked the FDA to enforce the following restrictions when it comes to tanning beds: 

  1. Prohibiting access to indoor tanning for minors (under 18 years old)
  2. Educating all indoor tanning customers about the skin cancer risks and requiring their informed consent
  3. Implementing and enforcing labeling recommendations outlined in the Tanning Accountability and Notification (TAN) Act
  4. Encouraging enforcement of state regulations

The American Academy of Dermatology also supports the newly passed indoor tanning tax since it will hopefully discourage individuals from using tanning beds and tanning salons.

Hopefully sooner than later the FDA will change their classification of tanning beds.  Hopefully sooner than later people will come to their senses and stop using tanning beds!

Sources and Further Reading



There Is Nothing Wrong with a Fake Tan


If you love the way you look with a tan there are plenty of ways to achieve that look without exposing yourself to the risk of skin cancer.  There are so many self-tanners and bronzers on the market that anyone can find a product that they like.


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